The term zaibatsu (財閥, financial clique) originates from 19th century Japan and refers to industrial and financial business conglomerates. In the early days the zaibatsu were huge and highly influential companies that were controlled by a single family. The four most significant zaibatsu (commonly referred to as “Big Four“) were Sumimoto, Mitsui, Mitsubishi and Yasuda.
Did you know that even the famous musician John Lennon had a direct connection to the Japanese zaibatsu?
In fact his wife Yoko Ono was the granddaughter of Yasuda Zenjirō, one of the leaders of Yasuda clan and the man who founded Yasudazaibatsu.
The zaibatsu were one of the most important reasons Japan did so well in World War II. The huge companies were able to provide the Japanese military with considerably high production capability due to their heavy industry background. After Japan surrendered to the US the Americans tried to dissolve the zaibatsu on the basis of them being financial monopolies. The zaibatsu were not completely dissolved, however, and Sumimoto, Mitsui and Mitsubishi of the Big Four still exist today among many others as large corporate groups known as keiretsu.
“Show me the money!” The mansion in which Mr. Iwasaki of the Mitsubishi zaibatsu lived prewar days
Even today the legacy of the zaibatsu can be seen in our everyday lives. Many people don’t realize that numerous respected brands and valued products such as Mitsubishi, Mazda, Nissan, Yamaha, Nikon and Ricoh originate from one of the zaibatsu. Japan is well known for being a significant player in different fields of industry from shipbuilding to consumer electronics – and in the case of most companies connections to the formerzaibatsu are undeniable.
References: See Wikipedia.
This little history lesson might leave you wondering: why did we name our company Zaibatsu? Do we have close relations to one of the clan leaders? Or are we the ruthless owners of a humongous conglomerate? The official answer to both questions is a simple “No“. However, the latter is something we as a company are aiming for!
We figured that to ever be a real megacorporation we must first act like one, and we believe that the Japanese zaibatsu managed to do so in an honorable way. We highly respect every individual in our team which we believe to have also been an important value in the family-owned zaibatsu – so there’s at least something in common already. Our company aims to resemble our Japanese namesakes more and more each year.
Most people would say that you cannot found a new company and call it a zaibatsu, but that’s just what we did.
We are Zaibatsu.