|Home province||Ōmi Province|
|Final ruler||Takakimi Mitsui|
|Current head||Hisanori Mitsui|
|Ruled until||1946 (zaibatsu dissolved)|
The Mitsui family (三井家, Mitsui-ke) is one of the most powerful families of merchants and industrialists in Japan.
The Mitsui enterprise made its debut in 1673 when Mitsui Takatoshi (1622–1694), son of a sake brewer, established Echigo-ya, a dry goods department store in both Edo and Kyoto. Meeting with great success, Takatoshi extended his services to moneylending and exchange. In 1691 the Mitsuis were officially chartered as merchants of the Tokugawa shogunate, which ruled during that time. Three years later the family members set up their first constitution, which included details about the amount of property due to each branch as well as the duties of the family council, a periodical assembly that controlled business and other personal matters.
In the late Edo period, the Mitsuis were the richest and most eminent family in Japan, their business being thoroughly encouraged by the government of the time. After the Meiji Restoration, the family switched allegiance to the Meiji government.
In 1909, a Mitsui controlled holding company took over the business, with Mitsui thus becoming a zaibatsu of more than 150 companies operating financial, industrial and commercial industries.
As part of the Japanese plans for the exploitation of China, during the 1930s and 1940s the subsidiary tobacco industry of Mitsui zaibatsu had started production of special "Golden Bat" cigarettes using the then-popular in the Far East trademark. Their circulation was prohibited in Japan and was used only for export. Local Japanese secret service under the controversial Imperial Japanese Army General Kenji Doihara had the control of their distribution in China and Manchuria where the full production was exported. In the mouthpiece of each cigarette a small dose of opium was concealed, and by this subterfuge millions of unsuspecting consumers became drug addicted simultaneously creating huge profits. The mastermind of the plan, Doihara, was prosecuted and convicted for war crimes before the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, sentenced to death in "pursued a systematic policy of weakening the native inhabitants' will to resist ... by directly and indirectly encouraging the increased production and importation of opium and other narcotics and by promoting the sale and consumption of such drugs among such people"; but no actions ever took place against the company which profited from their production. According to testimony presented at the Tokyo War Crimes trials in 1948, the revenue from the narcotization policy in China, including Manchukuo, was estimated in 20 to 30 million yen per year, while another authority stated during the trial that the annual revenue was estimated by the Japanese military at US$300 million a year, a colossal amount for the time.
During World War II several of the Mitsui group companies, including Mitsui-Miike mining, used Allied prisoners of war as slave labor, during which the prisoners were subjected to brutal treatment and torture, while some of them were permanently maimed by Mitsui employees.One of the surviving prisoners, United States citizen Lester Tenney, sued Mitsui in 1999 for punitive damages and compensation. Federal judge dismissed the case, citing the 1951 peace treaty between the U.S. and Japan that barred private claims against Japan.
By the end of the war the Mitsui group included more than 270 companies. After the group was dissolved by the occupation forces at the end of war, the companies started to reassociate again in 1950, creating a corporate grouping, or keiretsu .
Today the group counts dozens of multinational companies in fields such as trade, banking, shipping, construction, mining, oil and gas, insurance, chemicals and real estate development. The three main branches are:
A keiretsu 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 Mitsubishi Group is a group of autonomous Japanese multinational companies in a variety of industries.
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.
Kenji Doihara was a Japanese army officer. As a general in the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II, he was instrumental in the Japanese invasion of Manchuria.
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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.
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Naoki Hoshino was a bureaucrat and politician who served in the Taishō and early Shōwa period Japanese government, and as an official in the Empire of Manchukuo.
Mitsui Takatoshi was the founder of what emerged as the Mitsui zaibatsu. The second son of Mitsui Sokubei, a grocer and pawnbroker of Matsuzaka (松阪市), in Mie, his family was a branch of Fujiwara Hokke. He moved to Edo at 14 years of age, following his brother Toshitsugu who had extended the family's business by opening a sundry goods store (gofukuya:呉服屋) there in 1627. Takatoshi in a little over a decade rose to be manager of his brother's shop. At age 28 he returned to Matsuzaka at his aging mother's request and remained there for two decades. He returned to Edo on his elder brother Toshigutsu's death in 1673. He then established the Echigoya Drapery in Nihonbashi (日本橋) the following year, which was to become, later, the head company of the famous Mitsukoshi retail shopping chain. He also set up a material supplies store in Kyoto at this time. In contrast to most drapery merchants, who catered to feudal houses and wealthy merchants, trading on credit with no fixed prices, Takatoshi introduced an innovatory system of cash based purchase based on fixed prices for wares and targeted consumers in the emerging middle class.
Miike coal mine, also known as the Mitsui Miike Coal Mine, was the largest coal mine in Japan, located in the area of Ōmuta, Fukuoka and Arao, Kumamoto, Japan.
Golden Bat is a Japanese filterless brand of cigarettes, currently owned and manufactured by Japan Tobacco.
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).
Mitsui Hachirōemon is the inherited name given to the first son born to the head family, or the leading branch of the extended Mitsui family. It was Mitsui Takatoshi (三井高利) who started the naming ritual that a male heir would be called Hachirōemon when they decide the next leader of family business that Mitsui was known for. For those sons of Takatoshi, each bloodline had a nickname: the first son Takahira held the Kita branch, the second son Takatomi the Isarago branch (伊皿子家), and the third son Takaharu the Shimmachi branch (新町家).