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.
The world's largest maker of consumer electronics. Formally changed name from Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. in October 2008. In November 208, announced plans to buy a controlling stake in Sanyo as a subsidiary. Headquarters are in Osaka.
Incorporated in 1963, a large information-industry company dealing mainly in publishing and human resources. Publishes a wide range of popular magazines such as B-ing (employment), AB-Road (travel) and Keiko to Manabu (learning). Has annual sales of approximately ¥300 billion and total magazine circulation of approximately 7 million. Played the central role in the Recruit Scandal in 1988, in which shares of a subsidiary were given to prominent politicians and bureaucrats before they came on the market. The scandal caused the downfall of several influential figures, including Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro. Headquarters are in Tokyo.
Formed in December 2001 as Daiwa Bank Holdings, Inc., following the consolidation of Daiwa Bank, Kinki Osaka Bank, and Nara Bank. After acquiring Asahi Bank in 2002, the group was renamed Resona Holdings, Inc., "resona" being the Japanese for "ideal". But by 2003, the company was in a far from ideal state and its effective insolvency threatened to destabilize the country's entire banking system. In May, the government had to step in and inject about ¥3 trillion of public funds into the group, becoming its majority shareholder. Management was sacked and replaced with new faces, who set about reducing the group's non-performing loans. In 2004, management announced a 10-year plan to return the public funds. Headquarters are in Osaka.
Ricoh Company, Ltd., is one of the world's leading suppliers of office automation equipment, including copiers, facsimile machines, data processing systems, and related supplies. The Company is also renowned for its state-of-the-art electronic devices and photographic equipment. The group has over 300 companies in Japan and overseas. Headquarters are in Tokyo.
Sakura Bank, Ltd. (now part of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group)
At one point, the world's second largest bank in terms of deposits. Formed in 1990 through a merger of Mitsui Bank, Ltd and Taiyo Kobe Bank, Ltd and took its present name in 1992. In 1999, the bank had over 16,000 employees and over 500 offices in Japan and abroad. The bank announced plans to merge with Sumitomo Bank in 2001 to form Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp, now Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, the third-largest bank in the world. The combined firm shed some 9,300 employess and shut over 180 branches in Japan and abroad. The merger was revolutionary in that it marked the first time that major firms crossed the lines between two rival keiretsu groupings.
Sanwa Bank, Ltd. (now part of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group)
One of the leading city banks in Japan, incorporated in 1933 following the merger of three banks. Had a network extending to 31 countries, including key capital markets in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Provided traditional commercial banking, investment banking services such as aircraft, project, and trade finance, international mergers and aquisitions and structured financial arrangements. The main member of the Sanwa Bank group, which included such major general trading companies as Nissho Iwai Corporation and Nichimen Corporation. Plans for creating a holding company with Asahi Bank and Tokai Bank were derailed in mid-2000 when Asahi Bank pulled out. Established United Financial of Japan (UFJ) Group Holdings, one of the so-called 'megabank' groups, with Tokai Bank and Toyo Trust and Banking Co in April 2001 but the burden of bad loans led it to merge with Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group in 2005 to form Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group.
Founded in 1951 as Service Game Inc and took the name Sega in 1965. The No.3 video-game console maker worldwide achieved great success with its SegaSaturn machine, which it replaced with the 128-bit Dreamcast (developed with such companies as Microsoft and NEC) in 1999. Fierce competition with rivals such as Sony forced the company to abandon the machine market and concentrate on game software. Also produces game center amusement machines, and operates theme parks, movie theaters and karaoke rooms nationwide. Headquarters are in Tokyo.
A diversified retail group, founded originally in 1920 as Ito-Yokado, it is now the fifth largest retailer in the world, with 54,000 stores in approximately 100 countries. The 2005 acquisition of Millennium Retailing holding company, parent of the Sogo and Seibu Department Stores chains, made it the largest distribution and retailing business in Japan. Other subsidiaries include Ito-Yokado, 7 Bank and 7-Eleven convenience store chains (Japan and US). Headquarters are in Tokyo.
Manufactures a wide range of products such as LCD's, VCR's, computers, semiconductors and TV's. Established in 1912 by Hayakawa Tokuji, who three years later invented the Ever Sharp mechanical pencil from which the company name is derived. Pioneered integrated-circuit technology and its R&D force of over 6,000 continues to produce developments in laser and magnetic technology. Sharp's line of high-tech digital TVs includes the Aquos wide-screen range. Products are sold in over 140 countries worldwide. Until 2000, sponsor of the world's richest soccer team, Manchester United. Headquarters are in Osaka.
Incorporated in 1952, the second-largest private bank specializing in long-term credit to industry. Provided financial aid for industrial recovery following World war II. Initially specialized in the steel, coal, electric and shipping industries but, over the years, moved into various other sectors. Has wholly-owned subsidiaries in such countries as the UK and Switzerland. Came under temporary government control in 1999. The Japanese government later agreed the sale of the bank to US investment group Ripplewood Holdings for around ¥1 billion, and the bank's name was changed in June 2000. Shinsei is ahead of local rivals in terms of its services for non-Japanese customers, particularly in the field of online banking. Headquarters are in Tokyo.
Founded in 1981 by CEO Son Masayoshi, a leading telecommunications and media corporation, with operations in broadband, fixed-line and mobile telecommunications, e-Commerce, Internet, broadmedia, technology services, finance, media and marketing, and other businesses. Japan's largest computer publisher and distributor of packaged software and hardware, with billions of dollars invested in more than 100 Internet-related companies such as Yahoo Japan, GeoCities Japan and ZDNet Japan. In 2005, bought the Fukuoka Hawks professional baseball team. In March 2006, announced an agreement to buy Vodafone Japan. The renamed brand, Softbank Mobile Corporation, is the third-largest player in Japan's mobile market. Plans were also announced to develop an iPod mobile phone together with Apple Computer. Headquarters are in Tokyo.
Formerly Nipponkoa Insurance Co. Established when Koa Fire & Marine Insurance and Nippon Fire & Marine merged in April 2001. The newly created entity is powerfully positioned with total assets of over ¥3 trillion yen and a market share of 10 percent. It has established solid fundamentals and provides high quality comprehensive insurance services, with non-life and life insurance being its core business. Nippon Fire & Marine Insurance Co, Ltd was established in 1892 and was Japan's oldest non-life insurance company. The company provides fire, marine, personal accident and automobile insurances and related services through over 340 branches, sub-branches and offices in Japan and overseas representative offices in 21 cities.
Incorporated as Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo in 1946 by Morita Akio (1921~99) and Ibuka Masaru (1908~97). Changed to its present name in 1958 and grew into Japan's leading manufacturer of audio and visual electronic equipment. The Sony trademark is registered and recognized worldwide. The first Japanese company to offer shares on the US stock market. Creator of such products as the Walkman, the PlayStation and the AIBO, a pet robot dog. The AIBO was available only on the Internet in June 1999, and the limited run sold out in a few hours. Due to huge demand, Sony went through several design changes and sold tens of thousands of the "pets."
In 1972, the company established the Sony Foundation of Science Education, which supports a Japan-US high-school-teacher exchange program. Recently, the Sony Group was divided into companies including Sony Corporation of America, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony Electronics, Sony Music Entertainment, Sony Computer Entertainment and Sony Online Entertainment. In April 2001, formed Sony Bank Corp, Japan's first Internet bank and the first established by a non-banking sector company.
In 2005, Welshman Howard Stringer became the first non-Japanese CEO as the company found itself with several business sections operating in the red and the brand struggling to maintain its world-leading status. Several months after his appopintment, Stringer announced a major shakeup, with 10,000 job cuts among its 150,000 employees worldwide as part of a 3-year restructuring plan. Headquarters are in Tokyo.
Third of the big four prewar zaibatsu groupings, Sumitomo, Ltd expanded during World War II from 40 companies to 135. The House of Sumitomo was founded by Sumitomo Masatomo in the early 17th century. Sumitomo grew prosperous as the purveyor of copper to the Tokugawa Shogunate and as their 'accountant'. The Sumitomo group was much more centrally controlled by the Sumitomo family than was the case in the other zaibatsu. Before World War II, the 16th generation head of the family held over 90 percent of the group's shares.
Since the zaibatsu dissolution following World War II, the 80 or so Sumitomo subsidiaries have been loosely grouped in a keiretsu. The holding company was replaced by a president's club, the White Waters Club.
Sumitomo Bank, Ltd. (now part of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group)
One of the largest city banks in Japan, established in 1895 by Sumitomo Kichizaemon VII. The first Japanese private bank to expand overseas, opening branches in San Francisco and Hawaii in 1916. Entered a strategic alliance with Daiwa Securities Group in April 1999 and merged with Sakura Bank in 2001 to form Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp, now Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, the third-largest bank in the world. The combined firm shed some 9,300 employess and shut over 180 branches in Japan and abroad. The merger was revolutionary in that it marked the first time that major firms crossed the lines between two rival keiretsu groupings.
One of the pillars of the Sumitomo group, incorporated in 1925. Produces a wide range of petrochemical and chemical products. Has joint-venture affiliates in the US, Singapore and Brazil. Headquarters are in Tokyo and Osaka.
One of the world's largest companies, incorporated in 1919 and one of Japan's largest general trading companies. Trading centers on metals, machinery, chemicals, fuels and precious metals. Has the largest real-estate portfolio of any general trading company. Headquarters are in Tokyo and Osaka.
Founded in 1907 and a mutual company since 1947, the No.3 mutual life insurance company in the world. Has over 120 branches in Japan and 11 subsidiaries overseas. In a tie-up with two other Sumitomo Mitsui group insurance companies and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp, now Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, became part of Japan's largest insurance sales network. Has tie-ups with companies in some 13 countries. Employs over 64,000 people. Headquarters are in Osaka.
Sumitomo Metal Industries, Ltd. (now part of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation
The oldest major corporation in Japan, with roots going back to the refining of copper in Kyoto in 1590. Incorporated in 1950, the company is engaged in mining, smelting and processing of such metals as gold, copper, nickel and zinc. Merged with Nippon Steel in 2012.
(Formerly Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation) One of the three so-called 'megabank' groups (along with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Mizuho Financial Group) and the third-largest bank in the world at the time of its formation. Formed when Sumitomo Bank acquired Sakura Bank for ¥1.4 trillion in April 2001. It was created at a time when many Japanese banks were undergoing radical changes as a result of a 10-year slump in the economy and a seeming inability to resolve huge bad debts. The bank combines Sumitomo's corporate banking expertise with Sakura's focus on individual customers and at its commencement employed some 28,500 staff and had 206 subsidiaries. The group also includes Daiwa Securities SMBC.
SRI Group website (Japanese)
Company known worldwide under the brand name Dunlop. Produces tires, golf and tennis balls as well as other rubber products. Incorporated in 1917. Tyres make up about two thirds of sales, sports goods one quarter. Employs almost 4,700 people. Headquarters are in Kobe and Tokyo.
Formed in 2009 through the merger of Chuo Mitsui Trust Holdings Inc. and The Sumitomo Trust and Banking Co., Ltd. One of Japan's leading financial institutions, it provides an assortment of financial solutions and financial products to retail and wholesale customers, with a focus on asset management, financial brokerage and real estate services. STBC was incorporated in 1925 as a trust company for the Sumitomo group, and long-term loans to key industries helped sustain Japan's postwar recovery. Closely tied to the Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group. Headquarters are in Tokyo.