This is a selection of the largest companies in Japan and some smaller companies whose products or services are an everday presence in the country or abroad.
One of the world's largest corporations and one of Japan's leading general trading companies. A key member of the industrial-financial Fuyo group. Founded in 1858 and took its present form in 1949. Engages mainly in trading, domestic and international, as well as construction financing, insurance underwriting and property leasing. Headquarters are in Tokyo.
Matsushita Electric Industrial Co, Ltd (now Panasonic Corp)
Founded in 1918 by Matsushita Konosuke, who achieved commercial success making small batteries for bicycle lamps. By 1952 Matsushita had the highest personal income in Japan. During the boom years of the 1950's and 60's, the company produced and aggressively marketed electrical goods for the mass market, achieving huge growth and expansion both in Japan and overseas. Currently the largest manufacturers of consumer electric and electronic products in the world. Products are marketed under several names, of which Panasonic was chosen as the company's new corporate name in October 2008 (others include Quasar, Technics and National). The group includes 225 companies in 45 countries. In November 2008, the company announced plans to make Sanyo a subsidiary the following spring, creating Japan's largest electronics manufacturer. Headquarters are in Kadoma, Osaka Prefecture.
One of Japan's largest automobile manufacturers. Founded as the Toyo Cork Kogyo Co., Ltd, in 1920 as a manufacturer of machine tools. Switched to car production with the Mazda-Go in 1931, and produced weapons for the Japanese military throughout WWII. Known in Japan as Matsuda, though its cars have always carried the brand Mazda. In 1967 became the world's first carmaker to manufacture cars with three types of engine: regular piston engine, diesel engine and its newly developed rotary engine. Formerly took its present name in 1984. Exports cars to over 120 countries and also produces cars in Michigan, USA at a wholly owned subsidiary, and cars and trucks in 16 other countries. The Hiroshima plant is one of the largest in the world, producing over 700,000 units a year. Ford has had a large shareholding in the company since 1979 and in rcent years, Mazda have incorporated Ford engines into its new models. Financial struggles in the late 1990s have been largely turned around and the company is enjoying the strongest sales growth of all the major manufacturers. Company employs over 24,000 people in western Japan. Headquarters are in Tokyo and Aki City, Hiroshima Prefecture.
Second largest of the prewar zaibatsu groupings. Mitsubishi, Ltd controlled 209 companies by the end of World War II. Founded by Iwasaki Yataro in the early 1870's, it made its early money from shipping. Diversified into mining, money-exchanging and warehousing. Acquired the Nagasaki shipyards in 1887, which later became a main target for the atomic bomb.
Since the zaibatsu dissolution following World War II, the Mitsubishi subsidiaries have been loosely grouped in a keiretsu. The holding company was replaced by a president's club, the Friday Club.
At one time the largest company in the world. Japan's largest general trading company, with offices in over 80 countries. Took its present name in 1918. A global enterprise engaged in domestic and international trading as well as areas like resource development, information services, telecommunications, biotechnology and space technology. Headquarters are in Tokyo.
Mitsubishi Electric website (Japanese)
Incorporated in 1921, one of Japan's leading producers of electrical and electronic equipment. Has production and sales bases in over 30 countries. Developed more than half of Japan's communication and research satellites. A major product is large screen CRT (rear projection) televisions. MEC held the record for the fastest elevator in the world, in the 70-story Landmark Tower, Yokohama, until 2005, when it was overtaken by Toshiba's elevator in the Taipei 101 building in Taiwan. Headquarters are in Tokyo.
The largest heavy machinery manufacturer in Japan, changed its name from Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co, Ltd in 1934. Up to and during World War II, produced over 10,000 Zero fighters and the battleship Musashi. Currently also engaged in steel structure construction and the production of consumer products such as air conditioners and refrigerators. Headquarters are in Tokyo.
Became independent from MHI in 1970. The third largest car manufacturer in Japan until an admission in 2004 that management had been systematically covering up vehicle defects for 25 years seriously damaged the company's reputation. A dramatic drop in its stock price has since beenreversed and the company has returned to profit. Also manufactures buses, trucks and parts. Its car models have been awarded many prizes for excellence. Has cooperative ventures with foreign carmakers such as Chrysler in the US and Mercedes-Benz in Germany. Headquarters are in Tokyo.
Leading Japanese trust bank, incorporated in 1927. Provides financial services to member companies of the Mitsubishi keiretsu. In 1991, the volume of the bank's funds was over 30 trillion yen. In April 2001, joined with the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi and Nippon Trust Bank to form the Mitsubishi-Tokyo Financial Group, which in turn merged with UFJ in 2005 to form Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (below).
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group is the world's largest financial services company ranked by assets. Mitsubishi-Tokyo Financial Group was the second-biggest of the four so-called 'megabank' groups formed in 2000-01, and made up of the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Mitsubishi Trust & Banking Corporation (below) and Nippon Trust Bank. MTFG was the first of the nation's leading banks to repay the public funds borrowed during the late 1990s. But in the poor economic climate of the new century, MTFG joined other banks in laying off large numbers of staff. The present company was formed on October 1, 2005 with the merger of MTFG and Osaka-based UFJ Holdings, which was Japan's fourth-largest banking group. The group's main banking units, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi and the troubled UFJ Bank, merged on January 1, 2006 to form Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.
Largest of the prewar zaibatsu groupings. Mitsui, Ltd controlled 273 companies by the end of World War II. The zaibatsu was built on three main subsidiaries, Mitsui Banking, Mitsui Trading and Mitsui Mining. The House of Mitsui was founded when Mitsui Takatoshi opened a dry-goods store in Edo (now Tokyo) in 1673. Close ties to the Tokugawa Shogunate until the end of the Edo Period (1603~1868) helped the enterprise prosper. Subsequently, good relations with the Meiji government helped the group maintain dominance in many sectors and form its own zaibatsu. Since the zaibatsu dissolution following World War II, the Mitsui subsidiaries have been loosely grouped in a keiretsu. The holding company was replaced by two president's clubs, the Monday Club and the Second Thursday Club.
The fifth-largest company in the world (Fortune Global 500, 1999), a general trading company established in 1876. Handles about 10 percent of Japan's foreign trade volume in such areas as metals, machinery and oil as well as telecommunications and biotechnology. Has over 700 subsidiaries worldwide. Headquarters are in Tokyo.
Mitsui Seimei website (Japanese)
One of Japan's largest life insurance companies, incorporated in 1927. Active overseas through a worldwide network. Headquarters are in Tokyo.
Shipping and logistics company operating 350 vessels worldwide, including gas tankers, general cargo ships and passenger vessels. One of Japan's largest shipping companies which has also diversified into other areas such as real estate and advertising. Has the most extensive liner routes in the world, to about 300 ports in over 100 countries. Also operates tramp and tanker services. Headquarters are in Tokyo.
Mitsukoshi online store (Japanese)
Japan's largest department store company, dating back to the origins of the House of Mitsui in 1673. The main department store is still in Nihombashi, Tokyo, where the first store was opened by Mitsui Takatoshi, while the chain also includes Takashimaya, Japan's largest department store. The present name was adopted in 1928. 14 stores and 28 outlets have been opened around the world in such cities as London and New York. Also involved in golf course development. First listed its stock in 1949 and paid dividends every year until financial difficulties caused major restructuring in 1999, including selling its 12% stake in US jeweler Tiffany & Co. Headquarters are in Tokyo.
Formed from a merger of Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank, Fuji Bank and the Industrial Bank of Japan, Mizuho Holdings also included Mizuho Securities and Mizuho Trust and Banking. Mizuho Bank was formed on April 1, 2002 and the group as a whole is the second-largest financial services company in Japan and one of the three so-called Japanese "megabanks" (along with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group). Headquarters are in Tokyo.