A keiretsu (Japanese: 系列 , literally system, series, grouping of enterprises, order of succession) is a set of companies with interlocking business relationships and shareholdings. In the legal sense, it is a type of informal business group that are loosely organized alliances within the social world of Japan's business community. The keiretsu maintained dominance over the Japanese economy for the second half of the 20th century, and, to a lesser extent, continues to do so in the early 21st century.
The members' companies own small portions of the shares in each other's companies, centered on a core bank; this system helps insulate each company from stock market fluctuations and takeover attempts, thus enabling long-term planning in projects. It is a key element of the manufacturing industry in Japan.
The prototypical keiretsu appeared in Japan during the "economic miracle" following World War II and the collapse of family-controlled vertical monopolies called zaibatsu .
The zaibatsu had been at the heart of economic and industrial activity within the Empire of Japan since Japanese industrialization accelerated during the Meiji Era.They held great influence over Japanese national and foreign policies which only increased following the Japanese victories in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905 and World War I. During the inter-war period the zaibatsu aided Japanese militarism and benefited from their conquest of East Asia by receiving lucrative contracts.
Prior to World War II, Japan's industrialized economy was dominated by four major zaibatsu: Mitsubishi, Sumitomo, Yasuda and Mitsui. They focused on steel, banking, international trading and various other key sectors in the economy, all of which was controlled by a holding company. Apart from this, they remained in close connection to influential banks that provided funding to their various projects.
The zaibatsu had been viewed with some ambivalence by the Japanese military, which nationalized a significant portion of their production capability during World War II.[ citation needed ] Some assets were also severely damaged by the destruction of the war.
After the surrender of Japan the Allied occupation forces partially attempted to dissolve the zaibatsu which had worked closely with the militarists during the first half of the 20th Century and during the war. [ citation needed ] and were highly suspicious of monopolies and restrictive business practices, which they felt to be both inefficient, and to be a form of corporatocracy (and thus inherently anti-democratic).[ citation needed ]Many of the economic advisors accompanying the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers administration had experience with the New Deal program under President Franklin Roosevelt,
During the occupation of Japan, 16 zaibatsu were targeted for complete dissolution, and 26 more for reorganization after dissolution.[ citation needed ] Among the zaibatsu targeted for dissolution in 1947 were Asano, Furukawa, Nakajima, Nissan, Nomura, and Okura. Their controlling families' assets were seized, holding companies eliminated, and interlocking directorships, essential to the old system of intercompany coordination, were outlawed. Matsushita (which later took the name Panasonic), while not a zaibatsu, was originally also targeted for dissolution, but was saved by a petition signed by 15,000 of its unionized workers and their families.
However, complete dissolution of the zaibatsu was never achieved, mostly because the United States government rescinded the orders in an effort to reindustrialize Japan as a bulwark against Communism in Asia. [ citation needed ] Additionally, the changing politics of the Occupation during the reverse course served as a crippling, if not terminal, roadblock to zaibatsu elimination.[ citation needed ]Zaibatsu as a whole were widely considered to be beneficial to the Japanese economy and government, and the opinions of the Japanese public, the zaibatsu workers and management, and the entrenched bureaucracy regarding plans for zaibatsu dissolution ranged from unenthusiastic to disapproving.
Even today, banks and trading companies remain at the top of the pyramid, having access to and control over a portion of each company that forms part of the keiretsu.[ citation needed ] Shareholders succeeded over the family control of the cartel. This was made possible with relaxing of Japanese laws whereby holding companies could become stockholding companies.[ vague ]
Cartels and groupings of various kinds are common in Japan.
The two types of keiretsu, horizontal and vertical, can be further categorized as:
The primary aspect of a horizontal keiretsu (also known as financial keiretsu) is that it is set up around a Japanese bank through cross-shareholding relationships with other companies. The bank assists these companies with a range of financial services. The leading horizontal Japanese keiretsu, also referred to as the "Big Six", include: Fuyo, Sanwa, Sumitomo, Mitsubishi, Mitsui, and DKB Group. Horizontal keiretsu may also have vertical relationships, called branches.
Horizontal keiretsu peaked around 1988, when over half of the value in the Japanese stock market consisted of cross-shareholdings. Since then, banks have gradually reduced their cross-shareholdings. The Japanese corporate governance code, effective from June 2015, requires listed companies to disclose a rationale for their cross-shareholdings. Partly as a result of this requirement, the three Japanese "megabanks" descended from the six major keiretsu banks (namely Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Mizuho Financial Group) have indicated plans to further reduce their balance of cross-shareholding investments.
Vertical keiretsu (also known as industrial keiretsu) are used to link suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors of one industry. Examples of this type include Toyota, Toshiba, and Nissan.One or more sub-companies are created to benefit the parent company (for example, Toyota or Honda). Banks have less influence on distribution keiretsu. This vertical model is further divided into levels called tiers. The second tier constitutes major suppliers, followed by smaller manufacturers, who make up the third and fourth tiers. The lower the tier, the greater the risk of economic disruption; moreover, due to low position in the keiretsu hierarchy, profit margins are low.
It is noted that some of these vertical keiretsus, may belong to one or another horizontal keiretsu.Some of these vertical keiretsu are family businesses; examples of family-owned keiretsu include the Hitotsubashi/Shogakukan, Kodansha and APA groups. There are studies that found these vertical keiretsus, particularly those that belong to the same keiretsu, are more likely to form alliances than the other types or even those companies where one or two have keiretsu affiliations. Vertical keiretsu is considered an effective and competitive organizational model in the car industry.
At the center of the "big six" keiretsu were a bank and a trading company (sogo shosha). Japanese banks are allowed to have equity in other firms with a quota of less than 5% of the total number of shares issued by the company (Anti-Monopoly Law Reform of 1977). Banks play a crucial role in the smooth functioning of this organization. They assess the investment projects and provide loans when required. The trading companies (sogo sosha) deal in imports and exports of an assorted range of commodities throughout the world. Each major company has its own "President's Club", enabling interaction of core members to better help decide their strategies.
The Japanese keiretsu took various preventive measures to avoid takeovers from foreign companies. One of them was "interlocking" or "cross-holding" of shares. This method was established by Article 280 of Commerce Law. By doing so, each company held a stake in the other's company. This helped reduce the pressure on management to achieve short-term goals at the expense of long-term growth. Besides that, interlocking of shares serves as a tool for monitoring and disciplining the group's firms. The level of group orientation or strength between the member companies is determined by the "interlocking shares ratio" (the ratio of shares owned by other group firms to total shares issued) and the "intragroup loans ratio" (the ratio of loans received from financial institutions in the group to total loans received).
Industries such as banking, insurance, steel, trading, manufacturing, electric, gas and chemicals are all part of the horizontal keiretsu web. The member companies follow the "One-Set Policy" whereby the groups avoid direct competition between member firms.
The One-Set Policy:
|Banking||Sakura Bank||Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi Bank||Sumitomo Bank||Fuji Bank||Sanwa Bank||Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank|
|Trust Banking||Mitsui Trust & Banking||Mitsubishi Trust & Banking||Sumitomo Trust & Banking||Yasuda Trust & Banking||Toyo Trust & Banking|
|Life Insurance||Mitsui Mutual Life||Meiji Mutual Life||Sumitomo Mutual Life||Yasuda Mutual Life||Fukoku Mutual life, Asahi Mutual life|
|Marine & Fire Insurance||Mitsui Marine & Fire||Tokio Marine & Fire||Sumitomo Marine & Fire||Yasuda Marine & Fire||Nissan Marine & Fire, Taisei Marine & Fire|
|Trading Company||Mitsui Bussan||Mitsubishi Corporation||Sumitomo Corporation||Marubeni||Nissho Iwai||Itochu|
|Steel||Japan Steel Works||Mitsubishi Steel Manufacturing||Sumitomo Metal Industries||JFE Steel Corporation||Nakayama Steel Works, Nisshin Steel||Kawasaki Steel, Kobe Steel|
|Chemicals||Mitsui Toatsu Chemicals||Mitsubishi Gas Chemicals||Sumitomo Chemicals||Kureha Corporation||Sekisui Chemicals||Asahi Chemical Industries|
|Shipping||Mitsui O.S.K. Lines ("MOL")||Nippon Yusen Kaisha ("NYK Line")||Kawasaki Kishen Kaisha ("K Line")|
In the 1920s, government officials maintained close relations with the zaibatsu , and the roots of their influence remained strong throughout the rest of the 20th Century. The keiretsu have great influence on Japanese industrial and economic policy. The preferential buying habits of the keiretsu kept foreign investors and foreign goods out of their markets, which America criticized as "barriers to free trade". This enabled the keiretsu to enjoy monopoly privileges over the Japanese market, thus maintaining high prices for their goods, as they had full dominance over the price and distribution of products and services throughout the supply side. It is believed that due to this practice, Japan in the late 1980s imported far less than it should have ($40 billion less as per a report by the Brookings Institution). [ citation needed ]
In such a work environment, the probability of an employee to remain working in the same company for his entire working life was very high. Moreover, this framework allowed rapid co-operative development (sharing vital information, reduction in cost of R&D and higher quality products) within a keiretsu.
During the occupation of Japan, under the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, General Douglas MacArthur, a partially successful attempt was made to dissolve the zaibatsu in the late 1940s. Sixteen zaibatsu were targeted for complete dissolution, and 26 more for reorganization after dissolution. However, the companies formed from the dismantling of the zaibatsu were later reintegrated. The dispersed corporations were reinterlinked through share purchases to form horizontally integrated alliances across many industries. Where possible, keiretsu companies would also supply one another, making the alliances vertically integrated, as well. In this period, official government policy promoted the creation of robust trade corporations that could withstand heavy pressures from intensified trade competition.
The major keiretsu were each centered on one bank, which lent money to the keiretsu member companies and held equity positions in the companies. Each bank had great control over the companies in the keiretsu and acted as a monitoring and emergency bail-out entity. One effect of this structure was to minimize the presence of hostile takeovers in Japan, because no entities could challenge the power of the banks. Although the divisions between them have blurred in recent years, there have been eight major postwar keiretsu:
|Succeeded into||Name||Bank||Major group companies|
|MUFG||Mitsubishi|| Mitsubishi Bank (until 1996)|
Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi (1996–2005)
MUFG Bank (2006– )
Mitsubishi Trust and Banking
|Financial: Tokio Marine and Fire Insurance, Mitsubishi Estate, Meiji Mutual Fund |
Construction: Pacific Consultants International
Food: Coca-Cola Bottling of Northern New England, Kirin Brewery, Morinaga & Company, Morinaga Milk Industry, Sapporo Breweries
Electronics: Hitachi, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., Mitsubishi Electric, Mitsubishi Precision, NEC Corporation, Pioneer Electronic Corporation, Sharp Corporation, Sony Corporation, Victor Company of Japan, Ltd.
Entertainment: Avex Trax, BMG Victor, Inc., CIC-Victor Video, Ltd., Fujisankei Communications Group (Fuji Television, Nippon Broadcasting System, Pony Canyon), MCA Victor, Inc., Nippon Columbia, Nippon Crown, Nippon Television, Pack-In-Video, Pioneer LDC Inc., PolyGram K.K. (Nippon Phonogram Co., Ltd., Polydor K.K.), Sony Computer Entertainment, Sony Music Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment, other Sony subsidiaries, Teichiku Records, Tokyo Broadcasting System, TV Asahi, TV Tokyo, VAP, Inc., Viacom Inc. (MTV Networks, Paramount Pictures), Victor Musical Industries, Inc., Warner-Pioneer Corporation
Trading and Commerce: Mitsubishi Corporation
Vehicles: Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru), Honda Motor, Isuzu, Mazda, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Motors, Suzuki Motor
Petroleum: Nippon Oil, Mitsubishi Oil, Mitsubishi Nuclear Fuel
Precision Machinery: Nikon
Chemicals: Mitsubishi Chemical, Mitsubishi Gas Chemical, Mitsubishi Rayon Co., Ltd., Mitsubishi Materials Corp., Mitsubishi Plastics Industries, Asahi Glass, Nippon Synthetic Chemical Industries (Nippon Gosei)
Paper: Mitsubishi Paper Mills Ltd.
Iron and Steel: Mitsubishi Steel
Shipping: Nippon Yusen Kaisha – "NYK"
|SMFG||Mitsui|| Mitsui Bank (until 1990)|
Sakura Bank (1990–2001)
Sumitomo Mitsui Bank (2001– )
|Financial: Mitsui Real Estate, Mitsukoshi, Mitsui Mutual Life, Mitsui Marine & Fire |
Food: Nippon Flour Mills, Mitsui Sugar, Asahi Breweries, Sapporo Breweries, Suntory
Chemicals: Fujifilm, Mitsui Toatsu Chemicals, Mitsui Petrochemical Industries, Toagosei, Denki Kagaku Kogyo, Daicel Chemical Industries, Mitsui Pharmaceuticals, Mitsui Toatsu Fertilizers, Mitsui Toatsu Dyes, Toray
Trading and Commerce: Mitsui Bussan
Vehicles: Daihatsu, Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru), Honda Motor, Toyota
Petroleum: General Sekiyu, Kyokuto Petroleum Industries
Electronics: Fujifilm, Ibiden, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., Mitsubishi Electric, Sony Corporation, Toshiba, Victor Company of Japan, Ltd., Yaussa Corporation
Iron and Steel: Japan Steel Works
Gaming: Sony Computer Entertainment
Entertainment: BMG Victor, Inc., CIC-Victor Video, Ltd., Fujisankei Communications Group (Fuji Television, Nippon Broadcasting System, Pony Canyon), MCA Victor, Inc., Nippon Crown, Nippon Television, Pack-In-Video, PolyGram K.K. (Nippon Phonogram Co., Ltd., Polydor K.K.), Sony Computer Entertainment, Sony Music Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment, other Sony subsidiaries, Teichiku Records, Toshiba-EMI Limited, Tokyo Broadcasting System, TV Asahi, TV Tokyo, VAP, Inc., Victor Musical Industries, Inc.
Shipping: Mitsui O.S.K. Lines ("MOL")
|SMFG||Sumitomo|| Sumitomo Bank (until 2001)|
Sumitomo Mitsui Bank (2001– ), Sumitomo Trust and Banking
|Financial: Sumitomo Corporation, Sumitomo Corporation of America, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Sumitomo Trust & Banking, Sumitomo Life Insurance Co., Sumitomo Real Estate, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co., Ltd., Sumitomo Realty & Development Co., Ltd., Presidio Ventures, |
Construction: Sumitomo Mitsui Construction Co., Ltd., Sumitomo Densetsu, Sumitomo Osaka Cement Co., Ltd.,
|Mizuho||Fuyo|| Fuji Bank (until 2000)|
Mizuho Bank (2000– )
Yasuda Trust and Banking
|Financial: Yasuda Mutual Life, Yasuda Marine & Fire |
Food: Nisshin Flour Milling, Sapporo Breweries
Precision Machinery: Canon, Hitachi, Ltd., Ricoh
Electronics: Fuji Electric, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Ltd., Pioneer Electronic Corporation, Sharp Corporation, Sony Corporation, Victor Company of Japan, Ltd.
Trading and Commerce: Marubeni
Chemicals: Showa Denko, NOF Corporation, Kureha Corporation, Nippon Sanso, Hitachi Chemical, Asahi Kasei
Rail: Tobu Railway
Vehicles: Daihatsu, Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru), Nissan, Yamaha
Entertainment: BMG Victor, Inc., CIC-Victor Video, Ltd., Fujisankei Communications Group (Fuji Television, Nippon Broadcasting System, Pony Canyon), MCA Victor, Inc., Nippon Columbia, Nippon Television, Pack-In-Video, Pioneer LDC Inc., PolyGram K.K. (Nippon Phonogram Co., Ltd., Polydor K.K.), Sony Computer Entertainment, Music Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment, other Sony subsidiaries, Tokyo Broadcasting System, TV Asahi, TV Tokyo, VAP, Inc., Viacom Inc. (MTV Networks, Paramount Pictures), Victor Musical Industries, Inc., Warner-Pioneer Corporation
|Mizuho||Dai-Ichi Kangyo (DKB)|| Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank (until 2000)|
Mizuho Bank (2000– )
Long-Term credit Bank of Japan (until 2000)
Shinsei Bank (2000–)
Nippon Credit Bank (until 2001)
Aozora Bank (2001–)
|Financial: Fukoku Mutual Life, Asahi Mutual Life, Nissan Marine & Fire, Taisei Marine & Fire |
Food: Asahi Breweries, Coca-Cola Bottling of Northern New England, Kirin Brewery, Morinaga & Company, Morinaga Milk Industry, Sapporo Breweries
Electronics: Fuji Electric, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Ltd., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., Pioneer Electronic Corporation, Mitsubishi Electric, NEC Corporation, Nippon Columbia, Sharp Corporation, Sony Corporation, Toshiba, Victor Company of Japan, Ltd., Yaskawa Electric
Vehicles: Daihatsu, Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru), Honda Motor, Isuzu, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Mazda, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan, Suzuki Motor, Toyota
Power Generation: Tokyo Electric Power
Petroleum: Showa Shell Sekiyu
Precision Machinery: Asahi Optical
Trading and Commerce: Seibu, Itochu,
Iron and Steel: Kawasaki Steel, Japan Metals, Kobe Steel
Chemicals: Denki Kagaku Kogyo-Mitsui Group, Nippon Zeon, Asahi Denka Kogyo, Sankyo Co., Lion Corporation, Kyowa Hakko Kogyo, Asahi Chemical Industries,
Shipping: Kawasaki Kishen Kaisha – K-Line
Entertainment: BMG Victor, Inc., CIC-Victor Video, Ltd., Fujisankei Communications Group (Fuji Television, Nippon Broadcasting System, Pony Canyon), MCA Victor, Inc., Nippon Columbia, Nippon Crown, Nippon Television, Pack-In-Video, Pioneer LDC Inc., PolyGram K.K. (Nippon Phonogram Co., Ltd., Polydor K.K.), Sony Computer Entertainment, Sony Music Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment, other Sony subsidiaries, Teichiku Records, Tokuma Japan Communications, Tokyo Broadcasting System, Toshiba-EMI Limited, TV Asahi, TV Tokyo, VAP, Inc., Viacom Inc. (MTV Networks, Paramount Pictures), Victor Musical Industries, Inc., Warner-Pioneer Corporation
|MUFG||Sanwa ("Midorikai")|| Sanwa Bank (until 2002)|
UFJ Bank (2002–2006)
Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (2006– )
Toyo Trust and Banking
|Food: Asahi Breweries, Coca-Cola Bottling of Northern New England, Ezaki Glico, Itoham Foods, Kirin Brewery, Sapporo Breweries, Suntory |
Rail: Hankyu Railway, Keisei Railway
Steel: Kobe Steel, Nakayama Steel Works, Nisshin Steel
Precision Machinery: Konica Minolta, Hoya Corporation
Petroleum: Cosmo Oil
Electronics: Hitachi, Iwatsu Electric, Kyocera, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd, NEC Corporation, Nitto Denko, Pioneer Electronic Corporation, Sharp Corporation, Sony Corporation, Victor Company of Japan, Ltd.
Trading and Commerce: Takashiama, Orix, Nissho Iwai
Chemicals: Ube Industries, Tokuyama Corp, Hitachi Chemical, Sekisui Chemical, Kansai Paint, Tanabe Seiyaku, Astellas Pharma, Daiso Co., Teijin, Unitika Fukusure
Vehicles: Daihatsu, Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru), Honda Motor, Hitachi Zosen Corporation, Isuzu, Mazda, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan, Suzuki Motor, Toyota
Entertainment: Avex Trax, BMG Victor, Inc., CIC-Victor Video, Ltd., Fujisankei Communications Group (Fuji Television, Nippon Broadcasting System, Pony Canyon), MCA Victor, Inc., Nippon Columbia, Nippon Television, Pack-In-Video, Pioneer LDC Inc., PolyGram K.K. (Nippon Phonogram Co., Ltd., Polydor K.K.), Shin-Maywa, Sony Computer Entertainment, Sony Music Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment, other Sony subsidiaries, Toho, Tokuma Japan Communications, TV Asahi, TV Tokyo, VAP, Inc., Viacom Inc. (MTV Networks, Paramount Pictures), Victor Musical Industries, Inc., Warner-Pioneer Corporation
| Tokai Bank |
|Food: Kagome |
Vehicles: Daihatsu, Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru), Honda Motor, Isuzu, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan, Suzuki Motor, Toyota
Steel: Daido Steel
Precision Machinery: Ricoh
Petroleum: Idemitsu Kosan
Electronics: Hitachi, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., Pioneer Electronic Corporation, Sony Corporation, Toshiba Corporation, Ushio Industries, Victor Company of Japan, Ltd.
Trading and Commerce: Toyota Tsusho Corporation
Entertainment: BMG Victor, Inc., CIC-Victor Video, Ltd., MCA Victor, Inc., Nippon Columbia, Pack-In-Video, Pioneer LDC Inc., PolyGram K.K. (Nippon Phonogram Co., Ltd., Polydor K.K.), Sony Computer Entertainment, Sony Music Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment, other Sony subsidiaries, Teichiku Records, Toshiba-EMI Limited, TV Asahi, Victor Musical Industries, Inc., Warner-Pioneer Corporation
|Mizuho|| IBJ || Industrial Bank of Japan |
New Japan Securities
|Vehicles: Daihatsu, Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru), Honda Motor, Isuzu, Mazda, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan, Suzuki Motor, Toyota |
Precision Machinery: Ikegai, Riken
Electronics: Fuji Electric, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Ltd., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., NEC Corporation, Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd., Sony Corporation, Toshiba Corporation, Victor Company of Japan, Ltd.
Chemicals: Joyce Chen Products, Nippon Soda, Chisso Corporation, Nissan Chemical Industries, Tosoh Corporation, Hodogaya Chemical, Plas-Tech, Taihei Chemical, Japan Organo, Kuraray
Food: Asahi Breweries
Entertainment: BMG Victor, Inc., CIC-Victor Video, Ltd., Fujisankei Communications Group (Fuji Television, Nippon Broadcasting System, Pony Canyon), MCA Victor, Inc., Nippon Columbia, Nippon Television, Pack-In-Video, PolyGram K.K. (Nippon Phonogram Co., Ltd., Polydor K.K.), Sony Computer Entertainment, Sony Music Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment, other Sony subsidiaries, Teichiku Records, Tokyo Broadcasting System, Toshiba-EMI Limited, TV Asahi, TV Tokyo, VAP, Inc., Viacom Inc. (MTV Networks, Paramount Pictures), Victor Musical Industries, Inc.
Toyota is considered the biggest of the vertically integrated keiretsu groups, although the company is rather considered as a "emerged" keiretsu, along with Softbank, Seven & I Holdings Co..The banks at the top are not as large as normally required, so it is actually considered to be more horizontally integrated than other keiretsu.
The Japanese recession in the 1990s had profound effects on the keiretsu. Many of the largest banks were hit hard by bad loan portfolios and forced to merge or go out of business. This had the effect of blurring the lines between the individual keiretsu: Sumitomo Bank and Mitsui Bank, for instance, became Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation in 2001, while Sanwa Bank (the banker for the Hankyu-Toho Group) became part of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.
Generally, these causes gave rise to a strong notion in the Japanese business community that the old keiretsu system was not an effective business model, and led to an overall loosening of keiretsu alliances. While they still exist, they are not as centralized or integrated as they were before the 2000s. For instance, many troubled Japanese companies are faced with a new reality in which receiving financial support from their main banks are getting harder and unlikely than ever before. The companies include Sharp Corporation and Toshiba, both the iconic Japanese electronics companies.
This changed environment, in turn, has led to a growing corporate acquisition industry in Japan, as companies are no longer able to be easily "bailed out" by their banks, as well as rising derivative litigation by more independent shareholders.
The keiretsu model is fairly unique to Japan. The closest foreign counterpart would be the Korean chaebol , but many diversified non-Japanese businesses groups have been described as keiretsu, such as the Virgin Group (UK), and Tata Group (India), and the Colombian Grupo Empresarial Antioqueño.
Some industry consortiums and alliances have also been described in this way. The most common examples are the airline code-sharing alliances, such as Oneworld and Star Alliance. While those arrangements link a broad range of companies around a common organization, the groupings tend to have minimal financial entanglement and are generally designed around gaining access to foreign markets within industries that governments consider sensitive such as mining and aviation when foreign ownership is limited or even banned.
The automotive and industries have created broad cross-ownership networks across nations, but the national companies are normally independently managed. Banks cited as being central to keiretsu-like systems include Deutsche Bank and some keiretsu-like systems, generally referred to as trusts, were created by investment banks in the United States such as JP Morgan and Mellon Financial/Mellon family beginning in the late 19th century (roughly the same period they were created in Japan), but they were largely curtailed through anti-trust legislation championed by Theodore Roosevelt in the early part of the 20th century. A form of keiretsu can also be found in the cross-shareholdings of the large media companies throughout most developed nations.These are largely designed to link content producers to particular distribution channels, and larger content projects, such as expensive movies, are often incorporated with ownership spread across a number of larger companies.
Harvard Law School professor J. Mark Ramseyer and University of Tokyo professor Yoshiro Miwa have argued that the postwar keiretsu are a "fable" created by Marxist thinkers in the 1960s so as to argue that monopoly capital dominated the Japanese economy. They point to the sparsity and tenuousness of cross-shareholding relationships within the keiretsu, the inconsistency in members' relationships with the "main banks" of each keiretsu, and the lack of power and reach of the zaibatsu alumni "lunch clubs" which are often argued to form a core of keiretsu governance.
By April 2015, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari, representing the two largest economies of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, were involved in bilateral talks regarding agriculture and auto parts, the "two largest obstacles for Japan."These bilateral accords would open each other's markets for products such as rice, pork and automobiles.
During the two-day ministerial TPP negotiating session held in Singapore in May 2015, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and veteran negotiator, Wendy Cutler, and Oe Hiroshi, of the Japanese Gaimusho, held bilateral trade talks regarding one of the most contentious trade issues, automobiles. American negotiators wanted the Japanese to open their entire keiretsu structure, a cornerstone of the Japanese economy, to American automobiles. They wanted Japanese dealer networks such as Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi, and Mazda to sell American cars.The successful conclusion of these bilateral talks was necessary before the other ten TPP members could complete the trade deal.
The economy of Japan is a highly developed free-market economy. It is the third-largest in the world by nominal GDP and the fourth-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). It is the world's second largest developed economy. Japan is a member of both the G7 and G20. According to the International Monetary Fund, the country's per capita GDP (PPP) was at $41,637 (2020). Due to a volatile currency exchange rate, Japan's GDP as measured in dollars fluctuates sharply. Accounting for these fluctuations through the use of the Atlas method, Japan is estimated to have a GDP per capita of around $39,048. The Japanese economy is forecast by the Quarterly Tankan survey of business sentiment conducted by the Bank of Japan. The Nikkei 225 presents the monthly report of top blue chip equities on the Japan Exchange Group, which is the world's third-largest stock exchange by market capitalisation. In 2018, Japan was the world's fourth-largest importer and the fourth-largest exporter. It has the world's second-largest foreign-exchange reserves, worth $1.3 trillion. It ranks 29th on Ease of doing business index and 5th on Global Competitiveness Report. It ranks first in the world in the Economic Complexity Index. Japan is also the world's third-largest consumer market.
The Nikkei 225, or the Nikkei Stock Average, more commonly called the Nikkei or the Nikkei index, is a stock market index for the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE). It has been calculated daily by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper since 1950. It is a price-weighted index, operating in the Japanese Yen (JP¥), and its components are reviewed once a year. The Nikkei measures the performance of 225 large, publicly owned companies in Japan from a wide array of industry sectors.
Zaibatsu is a Japanese term referring to industrial and financial vertically integrated business conglomerates in the Empire of Japan, whose influence and size allowed control over significant parts of the Japanese economy from the Meiji period until the end of World War II. A zaibatsu's general structure included a family owned holding company on top, and a bank which financed the other, mostly industrial subsidiaries within them. Although the zaibatsu played an important role in the Japanese economy from the 1860s to 1945, they increased in number and importance following the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, World War I and Japan's subsequent attempt to conquer East Asia during the inter-war period and World War II. After World War II they were dissolved by the Allied occupation forces and succeeded by the keiretsu.
Mitsui Group is one of the largest keiretsu in Japan and one of the largest corporate groups in the world.
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Mitsubishi Corporation is Japan's largest trading company and a member of the Mitsubishi keiretsu. As of 2020, Mitsubishi Corporation employs over 86,000 people and has ten business segments, including finance, banking, energy, machinery, chemicals, and food.
Sumitomo Corporation is one of the largest worldwide Sogo shosha general trading companies, and is a diversified corporation. The company was incorporated in 1919 and is a member company of the Sumitomo Group.
Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation Group is a Japanese multinational banking and financial services institution headquartered in Yurakucho, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan. The group operates in retail, corporate, and investment banking segment worldwide. It provides financial products and services to a wide range of clients, including individuals, small and medium-sized enterprises, large corporations, financial institutions and public sector entities. Since 2011, it has been included into the Financial Stability Board's list of global systemically important banks.
The Sumitomo Group is one of the largest Japanese keiretsu, or business groups, founded by Masatomo Sumitomo around 1615.
Yasuda zaibatsu (安田財閥) was a financial conglomerate owned and managed by the Yasuda clan. One of the four major zaibatsu of Imperial Japan, it was founded by the entrepreneur Yasuda Zenjirō. It was dissolved at the end of World War II.
Japan Trustee Services Bank, Ltd., or JTSB, is a trust bank in Japan.
Nomura Holdings, Inc. is a Japanese financial holding company and a principal member of the Nomura Group. It, along with its broker-dealer, banking and other financial services subsidiaries, provides investment, financing and related services to individual, institutional, and government customers on a global basis with an emphasis on securities businesses.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. is a Japanese bank holding and financial services company headquartered in Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan.
The engine of Japanese economic growth has been private initiative and enterprise, together with strong support and guidance from the government and from labor. The most numerous enterprises were single proprietorships, of which there were more than 4 million in the late 1980s. The dominant form of organization; however, is the Corporation. In 1988 some 2 million corporations employed more than 30 million workers, or nearly half of the total labor force of 60.1 million people. Corporations range from large to small, but the favored type of organization is the joint-stock company, with directors, auditors, and yearly stockholders' meetings.
Fuyo Group is a Japanese keiretsu descended from the Yasuda zaibatsu, Asano zaibatsu and Okura zaibatsu. They are major business grouping in Japan up to World War II. In 1948, Yasuda was dismantled, with its key financial arm Yasuda Bank becoming Fuji Bank.
The Mitsui family is one of the most powerful families of merchants and industrialists in Japan.
Sogo shosha are Japanese companies that trade in a wide range of products and materials. In addition to acting as intermediaries, sōgō shōsha also engage in logistics, plant development and other services, as well as international resource exploration. Unlike trading companies in other countries, which are generally specialized in certain types of products, sōgō shōsha have extremely diversified business lines, in which respect the business model is unique to Japan.
Ie were pre-modern Japanese trading houses and precursors to the modern zaibatsu and keiretsu. They first emerged in the mid-18th century, and shared many features with the Western concept of cottage industry. The ie operated on a system very similar to what economists today call the "Putting-Out system" or "workshop system." City-based merchants would provide rural producers with raw materials and equipment, and would then sell the final product in the cities.
Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings, Inc., formerly Chuo Mitsui Trust Holdings, Inc., is a Japanese financial holding company headquartered in Chiyoda, Tokyo. It provides an assortment of financial products to retail and wholesale customers, with a focus on asset management, financial brokerage and real estate services.
Mitsui Bank, Ltd. was a major Japanese bank from 1876 to 1990. It merged with Taiyo Kobe Bank to form Mitsui Taiyo Kobe Bank (MTKB), which was renamed The Sakura Bank in April 1992. Sakura Bank is now part of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC).