In 1987, as the Japanese bubble economy inflated and internationalization became the latest buzzword, Eisai set its sights on breaking into the world's top 20 pharmaceutical companies. Under the leadership of Haruo Naito, who took over after his father Yuji Naito retired from the presidency, the company moved into its next period of long-term planning. At the time, Eisai ranked in 30th place among drug makers worldwide.
Eisai set out a clear corporate objective for the company as a global, R&D-based pharmaceutical company for the 21st century, focusing on outshining the competition in its ability to develop new products as it worked to enter overseas markets, its marketing prowess to maintain a solid presence in the Japanese market, and the solidarity of its financial position to survive industry-wide restructuring. In order to achieve this, Eisai mapped out the 15 years leading up to 2001, which would be divided into three periods, and steps would be taken to develop the company into a global, R&D-based pharmaceutical company during these years. This plan, the "First Five-Year Strategic Plan," set the goal of breaking into the ranks of the world's top 20 pharmaceutical companies by 2001 and called for specific initiatives to be taken over three distinct periods. The first period would be focused on as an "era of domestic operations," the second as the company's "era of globalization," and the third, an "era of soaring growth."