In 1916 NSK started up the first specialist production of bearings in Japan. However, it was not until after the end of the Second World War that Japan's bearings technology made substantial progress. 1955 marked the beginning of growth in demand for private automobiles, in addition to home appliances such as washing machines, refrigerators and air conditioners. In this environment, one of the key characteristics that the Japanese demanded of these home appliances was quietness. However, bearings manufacturers outside Japan didn't place much emphasis on the requirement for quietness; so Japanese manufacturers proceeded to build up know-how through research and development efforts based on the objective of developing the world's quietest bearings. Later, Japanese bearings renowned for their quietness were exported to the United States and Europe. Before long they also offered a high degree of durability.
Bearing specifications have been standardized in accordance with international ISO standards. Japanese-made bearings are admired around the world for their high performance and high quality. There are said to be around 3 billion bearings made annually in Japan, of which over 40% are for automobile use. Nearly 30% are exported.