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Mitsui Group (三井グループ Mitsui Gurūpu ?) is one of the largest corporate conglomerates (Keiretsu) in Japan and one of the largest publicly traded companies in the world.

Contents

History

Surugacho (Suruga Street) (1856), from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, by Hiroshige, depicting the Echigoya kimono and money exchange store with Mount Fuji in background. Currently, the Mitsui Main Building (三井本館), which houses Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Mitsui Fudosan, The Chuo Mitsui Trust and Banking Co. and Mitsui Memorial Museum, is located on the right side of the street. Mitsukoshi department store is on the left side.
Mitsui Main Building and Nihonbashi Mitsui Tower

Founded by Mitsui Takatoshi (1622–1694), who was born a fourth son of a shopkeeper in Matsusaka, called Echigoya (越後屋) in today's Mie prefecture. His father originally sold miso, a fermented soybean paste, and ran a pawn shop. Later, the family would open a second shop in Edo (now called Tokyo).

Takatoshi moved to Edo when he was 14 years old, and later his older brother joined him. Ever since he was very young, he had shown outstanding business talent. But because of that, his jealous brother sent him back to Mie when he was 28 years old. He waited for 24 years until his older brother died before he could take over Echigoya. He opened a new branch in 1673;[1] a large gofukuya (kimono shop) in Nihonbashi, a district in the heart of Edo. This genesis of Mitsui's business history began in the Enpō era, which was a nengō meaning "Prolonged Wealth".

In time, the gofukuya division separated from Mitsui, and is now called Mitsukoshi. Traditionally, gofukuyas provided products made to order; a visit was made to the customer's house (typically a person of high social class or who was successful in business), an order taken, then fulfilled. The system of accountancy was called "margin transaction". Mitsui changed this by producing products first, then selling them directly at his shop for cash. At the time, this was an unfamiliar mode of operation in Japan. Even as the shop began providing dry goods to the government of the city of Edo, cash sales were not yet a widespread business practice.

At about this time, Edo's government had struck a business deal with Osaka. Osaka would sell crops and other material to pay its land tax. The money was then sent to Edo—but moving money was dangerous in middle feudal Japan. In 1683, the shogunate granted permission for money exchanges (ryōgaeten) to be established in Edo.[2] The Mitsui "exchange shops" facilitated transfers and mitigated that known risk.

On July 1, 1876, Mitsui Bank, Japan's first private bank, was founded with Takashi Masuda (1848–1938) serving as president. Mitsui Bank, which following a merger with Taiyō-Kobe Bank in the mid 1980s became part of Sakura Bank, survives as part of the Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation). During the early 20th century, Mitsui was one of the largest zaibatsu, operating in numerous fields.

After the end of the Second World War and the dissolution of the zaibatsu, Mitsui lagged somewhat behind its rival Mitsubishi Group and Sumitomo Group in reorganization. Mitsui Bank, which should have been the mainstay and principal capital provider of the group, declined in size due to the collapse of the Imperial Bank of Japan, which resulted in reduced cohesion of the conglomerate. Many companies that were once part of the Mitsui Group have become independent or tied to other conglomerates. Specifically, Toshiba, Toyota Motors, and Suntory, once part of the Mitsui Group, became independent, with the Toyota Group becoming a conglomerate in its own right. Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries is now considered to be part of the Mizuho Group, and many companies in the Mitsui-Sumitomo Financial Group are now more closely tied to the Sumitomo Group than the Mitsui Group. Recently there have been signs that Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and the Mitsubishi Group could be taking over other parts of the Mitsui-Sumitomo Financial Group. Mitsukoshi merged into Isetan, a major department store with a close tie to the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, to form Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings in April 2008.

Makeup of the Mitsui Group

Companies currently associated with the Mitsui family include Mitsui & Co., Mitsui Construction Co., Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding Co., Mitsui Mining & Smelting Co., Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd., Mitsui Petrochemical Industries Ltd, Mitsui-gold, Mitsui Fudosan, Tri-net Logistics Management, Mitsui Chemicals and Pacific Coast Recycling, Mitsui-Soko Co,Ltd.

Mitsui Group also has substantial interest in CVRD and Caemi Mineracao e Metalurgia, which owns 70% of Mineracoes Brasileiras Reunidas (MBR).

Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding Co. owns just over 50% of the shares in MODEC Inc.

Companies with close ties to the Mitsui Group

See also

References

  1. ^ Hall, John. (1970). Japan: From Prehistory to Modern Times, p. 290.
  2. ^ Shinjō, Hiroshi. (1962). History of the Yen: 100 Years of Japanese Money-economy, p. 11.
  • Hall, John Whitney. (1970). Japan: From Prehistory to Modern Times in Delacorte World History, Vol. XX. New York: Delacorte Press. ISBN 0-2970-0237-6
  • Shinjō, Hiroshi. (1962). History of the Yen: 100 Years of Japanese Money-economy. Kobe: Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kōbe University.

External links

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