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 electric utilities, supplies electricity to some 25 million residential and business customers in Tokyo and the Kanto region. Established as Tokyo Electric Lighting in 1883 and took its present name in 1951. Power generation is from a combination of thermoelectric (56 percent), nuclear (30 percent) and hydroelectric plants (14 percent). Imports oil, liqufied natural gas and nuclear fuel. About one third of power use is domestic. Holds stakes in power plants in China, India and Southeast Asia. In 1999, announced a joint venture with Microsoft and Softbank to develop wireless Internet access over its power lines. Headquarters are in Tokyo.
Following the March 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, its power plant at Fukushima Daiichi was the site of one of the world's most serious nuclear disasters. The Japanese government planned to put TEPCO under effective state control to guarantee compensation payments to the people affected by the accident. The Fukushima disaster displaced 50,000 households in the evacuation zone because of leaks of radioactive materials into the air, soil and sea.
Leader of the Tokyu group, which is made up of some 400 companies, including Tokyu Land Corporation, Tokyu Hotel Chain Co, Tokyu Department Store Co and Japan Air System Co. Incorporated as a local railway company in 1922, currently operates train and bus transportation routes in the south-central area of Japan. Rail routes carry almost 1 billion passengers annually. The largest real estate developer in the country, operates 36 hotels in Japan. Also involved in real estate development and the operation of hotels in the US, Asia and Australia. Headquarters are in Tokyo.
TOMEN Corporation (now part of Toyota Tsusho Corporation)
Ranked seventh of the nine major general trading companies in Japan when it merged with Toyota Tsusho Corporation in 2006. Broke away from Mitsui & Co Ltd in 1920. Had more than 470 subsidiaries and affiliates in 60 countries. Sales are mainly in chemicals and energy but also telecommunications and electronics, metals, construction materials, machinery, textiles and apparel, and food.
Formed from the merger of Tokyo Electric Co, Ltd and Shibaura Engineering works, Co, Ltd in 1939. No.1 in the world in the portable computer market. In Europe, the company's market share was over 25 percent in 1998. Major manufacturer of communication systems, consumer goods and electronic devices. Also sells facilities for hydroelectric, thermoelectric and atomic power generation worldwide. Introduced the SmartMedia and Secure Digital Memory Card, both popular as memory media for digital devices. In August 2001, announced the layoffs of some 10% of its 190,000 workforce. Affiliated with the Mitsui Group and has ties to General Electric of the US. Toshiba's elevator in the Taipei 101 building in Taiwan is the fastest in the world. Headquarters are in Tokyo.
As of 2014, the eleventh-largest company in the world by revenue, and the largest automobile manufacturer in 2012 (by production). In July of that year, the company reported the production of its 200-millionth vehicle. In 2012 became the world's first automobile manufacturer to produce more than 10 million vehicles per year. As of July 2014, the largest listed company in Japan by market capitalization (worth more than twice as much as #2-ranked SoftBank) and by revenue.
Established in 1933, produced its first prototype in 1935 and took its present name in 1937. Didn't recover from the devastation of World War II until the mid-1950's when it introduced the Toyopet Crown. The Crown model remains the company's flagship model. In 1987, became the first Japanese company, and the fourth in the world, to pass the 60 million unit production figure. Operates some 14 plants in Japan and some 30 overseas. Established the Toyota Motor Foundation in 1974 to promote research into the effects of technological change on society and to foster relations between Japan and Southeast Asia. Headquarters are in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture.
Established in 1948 as the sole general trading company in the Toyota Group. Strengthened overseas operations in the 1980s and 1990s and expanded around core automotive business. Merged with the trading companies Kasho in 2000 and Tomen in 2006 to accelerate growth into such new business fields as infrastructure, chemicals, and food. In 2012, made the largest investment in company history in CFAO, a French trading company with a strong presence in Africa. Has headquarters in Tokyo and Nagoya.
United Financial of Japan (UFJ) Group Holdings (now part of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group)
One of the so-called 'megabank' groups. United Financial of Japan (UFJ) Group Holdings was established by Sanwa Bank, Tokai Bank and Toyo Trust and Banking Co in April 2001. The bank was to focus on lending to small and medium-sized businesses rather than leading companies. However, when UFJ bank was officially launched in January 2002, a major hurdle for the company was dealing with the outstanding debts of the huge Daiei supermarket chain. Merged with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group in 2005.
Victor Company of Japan, Ltd. (now part of JVC Kenwood)
Established in 1927 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the present-day RCA of the US and took The Victor name in 1945. A member of the Panasonic group. Produces VCR's, TV's, audio equipment, CD's and computers. Known overseas under the brand JVC. Merged with Kenwood Corporation in 2008 to become JVC Kenwood.
Manufacturer of dairy products, foods and cosmetics and owner of the Yakult Swallows professional baseball team. Famous for its Yakult drink and its 'Yakult Ladies', a door-to-door sales force. A former vice president was involved in the massive fraud investigation of the American brokerage firm Cresvale International in late 1999. Headquarters are in Tokyo.
The largest manufacturer of musical instruments in the world, established by Yamaha Torakusu in 1887. Produces instruments such as pianos, guitars and synthesisers as well as audio equipment. Also operates leisure facilities and is heavily involved in event promotion. Headquarters are in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture.
Separated from Yamaha Corporation in 1955 and started manufacturing motorcycles. World renowned for road and racing motorcycles, also produces snowmobiles, car engines and industrial robots. Japan's No.2 bike producer, behind Honda. Products are manufactured in 45 countries. Sponsors the Jubilo Iwata J-League professional soccer team. Headquarters are in Iwata, Shizuoka Prefecture.
The world's No.1 manufacturer of zippers, also produces machinery and aluminium materials. Founded in 1934, the company is not listed on the stock exchange but issues stocks to employees, who take part in management. Exports to over 120 countries and has plants in over 50. Headquarters are in Tokyo.
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