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The future of Sogo shosha In Japan after the Second World War, thedominant industrial powers that emerged tended to be the keiretsu (industrialgroups), which grew out of the pre-war conglomerates, and the zaibatsu(financial cliques) such as Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Sumimoto and Yasuda. These hadevolved from family business empires and government’s expansion abroad. Eachzaibatsu/keiretsu has its own Sogo shosha (trading company) which in theseventeenth century were simple import-export businesses. Their influence wasenormous because their employees, ‘shosha-men’, spent years overseas developingtheir expertise. For example, it was suggested that during the Gulf War theJapanese foreign ministry relied on these contacts rather than its owndiplomatic sources. The Sogo shosha played a major role, for example, in facilitatingthe relocation of Japanese production facilities by developing industrial parksin Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines,Myanmar and Vietnamwith distribution centres for suppliers and finished goods.At the height of their power the Sogoshosha wielded great power: for example, in 1991 they accounted for 43 per centof Japan’sexports and 79 per cent of imports. Now things are changing. The top five,Mitsubishi, Mitsui, Sumimoto, Itochu and Marabeni, are still major players butare having to restructure and embark on joint ventures to maintain theirposition. Under great pressure from the government and banks they are having toget rid of non-performing assets, to partner with other firms and to cut costs.Because they are trading companies their gross turnover is huge but theirprofits are very thin. Some estimates suggest that up to 30 per cent of a Sogoshosha’s subsidiaries and ventures could be loss-making at any one time.


They suffered in the 1990s due to the long recession in the Japanese economy, where they conduct 50 per cent of their transactions.

Update 2:

The need for Japanese companies to adopt global standards in management and more transparent accounting procedures in management and more transparent accounting procedures led to harder decisions being taken on loss-making subsidiaries.

Update 3:

The problem was that Japanese employers were reluctant to sack workers in large numbers, especially when this might lead to sacking staff in other firms with which they were closely tied.

Update 4:

The pressure was greater for the smaller Sogo shosha. The sixth and eighth largest, Nissho Iwai and Nichimen, merged with the loss of 4000 jobs. This was a big shock for the shosha-man a very honourable lifetime career for a university graduate.

Update 5:

The Sogo shosha have a history have a history of reinventing themselves when it has become necessary. However, the main problem they are facing is caused by the change in business practice.

Update 6:

For example, Nippon Steel bought from all the Sogo shosha to maintain good relations, but have now cut suppliers and buy in greater volumes at lower rives. Moreover, e-commerce has the potential to cut out the intermediary’s role altogether.

Question: What must they do to survive?

1 Answer

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer


    在日本,第二次世界大戰後所出現較具產業支配勢力的,為戰前由一些企業集團集結而成經連會(工業團體),及財閥(金融派系)如Mitsui(三井集團), Mitsubishi(三菱集團), Sumimoto(住友集團)及Yasuda(安田集團)。這些都是由家族企業及政府的海外擴張所演變而成的。每一個經連會/財閥都有屬於自己的綜合商社(貿易公司),通常這類商社在17世紀時就是單純處理進出口業務。他們(指那些經連會/財閥)的影響是相當大的,因為那些被稱之為"商社人"的員工長年待在海外培養專業技術。例如,在波斯灣戰爭時期,日本外交部就是仰賴這些海外人才的協助,而非他們(指外交部)本身所擁有的外交資源。綜合商社扮演著重要的角色,例如,協助日本在改變生產場所時,於泰國、印尼、菲律賓、緬甸及越南發展工業園區及配發中心以因應供應商及成品倉儲需求。

    在他們鼎盛時期,綜合商社發揮了極大的力量: 例如,在1991年日本43%的出口及79%進口是由他們負責。然而現在狀況有所改變。前五大公司,Mitsubishi(三菱), Mitsui(三井), Sumimoto(住友), Itochu(伊藤忠)及Marabeni(丸紅)仍然是主要的業界先驅,但他們必須要進行重組,同時開始從事企業聯營以維持在業界的地位。在政府及銀行強大的壓力下,他們必須放棄無營利效能資產,與其他企業聯盟並且降低成本。因為他們是貿易公司,縱使擁有龐大的總周轉額但實際收益卻相當微薄。有些預估就顯示,有高達30%的綜合商社子公司及企業可以在任何一次的交易後就達到虧損。



    對於較小的綜合商社其壓力更大。當第六及第八大企業,Nissho Iwai(日商岩井)及Nichimen(日棉),合併時就造成了4000人失業。這對所謂的"商社人"來說是相當大的打擊: 直到幾年前,對一個大學畢業生來說,成為一名商社人就如同成為律師及醫生,是一個畢生榮耀的職業。


    例如,Nippon Steel (新日本製鐵)以往為了保持良好關係會跟所有的綜合商社購買產品,但現在卻減少供應商數量,採取一次大量採購以換取低價的方式。



    Source(s): myself & 奇摩字典
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