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The Zaibatsu & Keiretsu

A zaibatsu is a financial combine, that is a group of companies which do business in several industries (eg. finance, real estate, manufacturing, elecronics...). These are typically centered around a bank from the same group.

Japanese zaibatsu developped mostly from the Meiji era (1868-1912). The 4 largest are Mitsui, Sumitomo, Mitsubishi and Yasuda. The Americans initially wanted to dissolve all the zaibatsu after WWII, as they saw them as undemocratic and the finance behind the militaristic government of the 1930's. But in 1947, as Communism was threatening to overtake China, Korea and Japan, the US allowed the zaibatsu to subsist.

In order to avoid situations of monopoly or to prevent big companies gathering too much power, laws were passed to prohibit financial company from mixing banking, securities and insurance business, or for media companies to engage in both newspapers and television.

For more information regarding the current state of zaibatsu, click on the links below :

Mitsubishi Zaibatsu

Mitsui Zaibatsu

The new zaibatsu

However a modern form of zaibatsu has developped to adapt with those regulations. All 5 major newspapers have made strategic alliances with the 5 major commercial TV channels. Their relations are as follow :

  • Yomiuri Shimbun & Nihon TV
  • Mainichi Shimbun & TBS
  • Sankei Shimbun & Fuji TV
  • Asahi Shimbun & Asahi TV
  • Nikkei Shimbun & Tokyo TV

    See the Media Industry for more details.

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