Eiichi Shibusawa

Who is the great entrepreneur in Japan?

Japanese book Kinsei Meishi Shashin vol.2
Japanese book Kinsei Meishi Shashin vol.2



Probably, you would answer Mr. Toyoda of Toyota Motor or Mr. Honda of Honda Motor however before the generation those entrepreneurs start their business, we have a great entrepreneur in Japan. His name is Eiichi Shibusawa. He was born into an agricultural merchant household at the end of the “Edo” period when Japanese society was under the rule of the shogunate. In other words, “Samurai era.”

He studied hard and became a “Samurai” then served to the last Shogun. He got an opportunity to visit Europe as a member of the official mission. At the time Europe was far more modernized than Japan. He has stayed in Europe more than one year and a half. During his stay, Edo period finished, and Meiji restoration occurred. After the restoration, Japan has entered the modern economy. After coming back from Europe, we use his experience and knowledge in Europe, we worked in the new government and was in charge of financial reforms. During working in the government, he realized that to modernize country, industry development was one of key success factors. He quitted his job in government and entered the business world. Again he used the experience and knowledge in Europe. He established or involved more than 500 private companies and around 600 non-profit organization including;

Private companies: Mizuho financial group, Japan Airline, Tokyo electric power company, Imperial hotel

Non-profit organizations: Tokyo stock exchange, Japan chamber of commerce, Japanese Red Cross, Hitotsubashi University.


Regarding the number of companies he started-up and support, he might be the number one entrepreneur in the world. Surprisingly as I mentioned above, some of them  still exist as leading companies or organization in each industry.

Do think we can learn a lot from him about entrepreneurship and management?



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