The Sony Building was completed in 1966. Initially, the opening was planned for May 7, Sony's 20th anniversary. Morita, however, suggested changing the opening to April 29, the Emperor's birthday, which was the first of three national holidays in what is called Golden Week.
On April 15, the building was officially turned over to Sony. There was no time for celebration -- on the 16th they had to start moving in the merchandise. On April 29 at the stroke of midnight, all the lights were switched on to herald the opening of the Sony Building throughout the Ginza skyline.
The Sony Building was opened. Morita, however, harbored secret doubts. "Perhaps an electronics firm like ours shouldn't have built this after all..." Morita's concern was rooted in Japan's overall economic situation, which was not good. Due to depressed economic conditions, people everywhere seemed apathetic. Morita wondered if anyone would visit the new building under those conditions. Luckily, his fears were unfounded. The number of visitors grew each day, and in a short time the Sony Building became one of Ginza's main attractions -- so much so that people said it helped restore some of Ginza's former vigor and life.
Japan's economic depression was rooted in the interest equalization tax instituted in July 1963 by the President of the United States John F. Kennedy. The enactment of the tax came immediately after Sony had made its second ADR issue. At the time, the American economy was in recession, resulting in a tremendous outflow of domestic capital. To slow this trend, Kennedy took strong measures -- a 16.5% interest equalization tax on all capital leaving the U.S. While this move did indeed decrease the outward flow of American capital, it also incited panic in world markets. Japan was no exception. In 1965, Japan felt the full effects of the tax -- the securities market slumped into the worst depression in its history. When the Tokyo Stock Exchange average dropped to 1,020 yen, many thought that the Japanese economy would collapse.
Sony's stock reflected the times. Issued at 600 yen, it fell to 250 yen, and remained sluggish around the 250-260 yen mark. Under these circumstances, Sony could not raise any capital. At the time, they needed capital for research and development of the Chromatron color TV and for the construction of the Sony Building. To make matters worse, an additional 100 million yen was needed to repair the Sony Research Center in Hodogaya, which was hit by a landslide in 1966.
Sony needed all the capital it could acquire, but the Japanese economy did not have the strength to raise it since Japan was in a recession. The only option left was to sell Sony stock abroad. Thus, the company began a strong campaign to attract foreign investment.
"IBM is by far the wealthiest corporation in the U.S. Even if we have to pay the 16.5% tax, in the long run we can profit if they'll buy our stock. I think we should try." Yoshii brought this drastic suggestion up before Ibuka and Morita. The question was whether IBM would deal with Yoshii or not. Yoshii, however, hoped that James Birkenstock, vice president of IBM and director of the Technical Division, whom he had met when Sony and IBM signed the technical assistance contract, would help him.
Considering the severity of their financial plight, Ibuka and Morita agreed with Yoshii that it was the only thing to do.