The EF60 was the first Japanese six-axle electric locomotive to have three two-axle bogies to reduce the loads on the rails. It shared the 390 kW traction motors with the ED60, making it the second second-generation Japanese electric locomotive. Production was split between Kawasaki, Mitsubishi, Toshiba and a cooperation between Toyo and Kisha Seizo. There were 129 examples for freight use, designated EF60-0, replacing the EH10, and 14 for passenger use, designated EF60-500, replacing the EF58.
After two prototypes and twelve production engines had been built from 1960, production started in larger numbers from 1962. From the third production lot, which was built in 1964, the locomotives had two headlights at each end instead of one large and more powerful traction motors, each with 425 kW. The EF60-500 were replaced in service with passenger trains by new models as early as 1965 and then used for freight trains. From 1977 a total of eleven locomotives were converted to EF61 and EF67 for helper duties on inclines. The retirement of all remaining EF60s was completed in 1986.