Japan's iron and steel supply depended upon the import from European countries. Japanese traders could hardly deal with the imported goods because foreign traders almost occupied the iron and steel import dealing. Hikitorisyo (Japanese import trader) intermediated between Japanese distributors and foreign traders. Tsuda Katsugoro who came from Hikitorisyo was one of the most famous distrbutors at Osaka. At first when he worked for Kawasaki Shipbuilding Co., he was headhunted by H.E. Reynell who lived at Kobe and imported wine, spirits and so on. He worked for Reynell and Co. After he was independent of Reynell's financial help because of his bankrupt, Mitui Bank, one of the biggest Japanese bank, gave him the financial help so that Tsuda, though he could refuse foreign trader's financial dependence, deeply had to depend upon Mitsui's finance. He started as the dealer, chiefly sold to government office and Navy, and built his local branches in order to sell foreign goods. He sold ship equipments, steel machines, steel goods and so on, which he imported through foreign merchants and big home traders, to home small traders and iron makers. After his independence from Reynell, he changed his business strategy, firmly dealt with the imported iron and steel and distributed them to local merchants, because he also experienced the risk of Hikitorisyo business in spite of the fact that he made a profit during Japan China War (1894-95). In the Meiji era extending business chance, he was one of the innovative successful merchants in a short period. The small merchant such as Tsuda played an important part in the industrialization in Meiji era.
The purpose of this essay is to make clear a key problem of study on the Japanese business history after the Second World War, and to indicate concrete focuses of the study concerned. The key problem of study on the postwar business history in Japan is lack of a whole perspective which covers not only the rapid economic growth but also the collapse of the bubble boom. On the other hand a recent appearance of comparative institutional analysis of economic development, which insists that company activities follow system-wide institutional changes, means a crisis of business history. Therefore, in order to overcome the crisis business history on postwar Japan must have the entire perspective without delay. This essay indicates three focuses of the study as follows; (1) to make clear changes of industrial relations in connection with changes of production control and quality control, (2) to analyze changes of a consuming trend in relation to changes of distributing structure and trade practices, and (3) to examine changes of company finance with reference to changes of investment activities and business results. And, as a conclusion, it emphasizes a new perspective, which should be called as “business history of coping with crises”, and an epoch-making change in the first half of the 1960s.
After World War II, the dissolution orders of the zaibatsu was carried out by Occupation policy. In Mitsubishi zaibatsu, Mitsubishi-Honsha, which was a holding company, made efforts to maintain to control many operating companies in spite of its own dissolution. In zaibatsu, there used to be several kinds of committee, which were consisted of top managers and general managers among the holding company and operating companies. Mitsubishi-Honsha would continue to exist these committee informally even under the liquidation. But it had become impossible for Mitsubishi-Honsha to control operating companies, because all of them had became autonomous, independent companies owing to the dissolution of the holding company. For example, Mitsubishi Electoric Corporation carried out to revise wage system, without referring the matter to the general managers committee in advance. Each operating company did not always keep its own autonomy for others. In cases of emergency, they cooperated with others to dissolve the matter such as making stabilizing shareholders by mutual stock holdings. And it was also important for operating companies to preserve of the trade name and trade mark. Because Mitsubishi Shoji, which had preserved all of trade name and trade mark in Mitsubishi zaibatsu, was divided in many companies after the war, so there happened many troubles about them. Generally speaking, enterprise group has two factors such as top managers committee and mutual stock holdings. In case of Mitsubishi, top managers committee had been existing since before the war, differing from mutual stock holdings among operating companies after the war. So each of them had a different function, and top managers committee hardly had the function of large shareholders meeting in case of Mitsubishi in 1950's. The transfomation from zaibatsu to enterprise group in 1950's was represented as the changing of the position of operating companies. In zaibatsu, they were subject to the holding company formally. But in new enterprise group, all of them had became independent companies after the dissolution of the holding company. Therefore the function of top managers committee among members of the group had changed from the control operating companies by the holding company to the exchange of information and the interests coordination by members of operating companies.