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[Jap.,=money clique], the great family-controlled banking and industrial combines of modern Japan. The leading zaibatsu (called keiretsu after World War II) are Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Dai Ichi Kangyo, Sumitomo, Sanwa, and Fuyo.
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one of Japan’s most powerful financial-industrial monopoly groups.
The Mitsui grew out of the commercial banking house of Mitsui, founded in the 17th century. Playing an important role in the predatory wars of imperialist Japan and reaping enormous profits, the Mitsui by the beginning of the 20th century had become a leader among Japan’s zaibatsu (monopolies). It seized a leading position in finance, trade, maritime transport, mining, textiles, and other industrial sectors in Japan and Korea. During 1938–45 the group expanded into military machine building.
After the smashing of Japanese imperialism in 1945, the Mitsui lost a number of its major firms, which significantly weakened its financial and industrial power. The group is now headed by the Mitsui Bank and by the commercial firm Mitsui Bussan; two presidential assemblies, in which executives of the leading companies of the Mitsui participate, direct the group. The Mitsui family is no longer represented in the group’s governing bodies.
The Mitsui is linked with monopolies in the United States. It leads Japan in the mining of coal; in the production of fertilizers, synthetic fibers, and aluminum; and in the volume of maritime shipments. The Mitsui is also strongly positioned in petrochemicals, metallurgy, shipbuilding, insurance, atomic energy, military production, and other branches of industry.
I. M. REZNIKOVA