The purpose of this essay is to make clear the activities of the Japan Branch of Standard-Vacuum Oil Company (SVOC) and its predecessors, Standard Oil Company of New York (SOCONY), Vacuum Oil Company, and Socony-Vacuum Corporation, before World War II. In this essay I examine the following seven points at issue. 1. Why did SOCONY and Vacuum establish the Japan Branch in the early 1890s? 2. Why did SOCONY and Vacuum succeed in penetrating into the Japan's petroleum market? 3. Why did SOCONY start producing and refining Japan's domestic crude oil in 1900 and stop them in 1911? 4. Why did SOCONY's sales share in the Japan's petroleum market decrease during the 1910s and 1920s? 5. How did the establishment of Socony-Vacuum in 1931 influence the Japan Branch? 6. How did the establishment of SVOC in 1933 influence the Japan Branch? 7. How did SVOC move against the Japan's Petroleum Industry Law of 1934, which persecuted foreign petroleum companies? These examinations show one general conclusion : In case of analyzing activities of foreign companies in Japan, we must take notice of their world-wide (at least Asia-wide) strategy as well as the peculiarity of the Japan's market.
It has been commonly accepted that the Zaibatsu holding companies held control over its subsidiary companies by giving permission to appoint managers, to make a huge long-term investment, to establish branches, and so on. But we have few studies about Zaibatsu control over banking companies. The purpose of this paper is to make clear how Zaibatsu holding company (Mitsui Gomei) controlled its subsidiary bank (Mitsui Bank) in the 1910s. Without agreement of the directors board of Mitsui Bank, Managing Directors could not (a) make or revise rules or regulations of the bank, (b) establish branches and appoint managers of branches, (c) change the tacit cartel treatment on deposit interest rate among main banks, (d) change maximum amount of loans of each branch, (e) underwrote public and corporate bonds, (f) closed contracts with foreign banks, while they could change the preferred interest rate of deposits for special customers and make loans (except asked politically). The board of the bank needed the permission of Mitsui Gomei when it (a) made or revised important rules, (b) established branches and appointed managers of branches, (c) underwrote bonds. In 1917, the board meetings were held 57 times, of which 25 meetings could not make decisions because the number of those present didn't reach a quorum. The quorum is five of six members of the Board, into which Mitsui families sent two members. From this fact we can infer that the board meetings didn't play an important role in decision making. In 1919, Mitsui Bank issued new stock partly by public subscription, the Board added two members in it. The two were the new stock owners, and they had not been working for the companies controlled exclusively by Mitsui Gomei. It was the first time for the Board to accept the outsiders. After 1919 the Board could make any decisions without agreement of Mitsui Gomei formally. At this time the Board made some codes which empowered Managing Directors to make decisions in particular matters without agreement of the Board, but the codes consisted mainly of the customs which had prevailed in the Board.