Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Asian Studies

First Advisor

Joyce Madancy




zaibatsu, japanese, keiretsu, companies, japan


In order to fully consider the development of the zaibatsu and keiretsu both within Japan and through the perspective of outside observers, this thesis takes a generally chronological format. The first chapter considers various definitions of the term zaibatsu, and traces the development of the zaibatsu in relation to both the growth of the Japanese economy following the Meiji Restoration and subsequent Japanese imperialism up to WWII, and considers how Japanese culture and business interacted in the formation of the companies. The second chapter considers Japanese perceptions of the zaibatsu prior to WWII, the conglomerates’ actions during the war, and the Allied Occupation’s motives, goals, and policies for zaibatsu dissolution. In the third chapter, the relationship between the modern keiretsu and the zaibatsu will be investigated to determine whether the keiretsu are merely reenergized versions of the zaibatsu or, as I argue, are distinct from the pre-war companies in business practices, structure, and relationships within the Japanese economy and with the government. The final chapter is a case study of the Mitsubishi Corporation from its pre-Meiji roots and growth as a zaibatsu to its dissolution and the eventual formation of the Mitsubishi keiretsu.