Industrial and financial combines that attained a dominant position in the Japanese economy between the Meiji period (1868-1912) and World War II. The following companies are generally considered zaibatsu: Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Sumitomo, and Yasuda (these are the so-called "Big Four"), along with Nissan, Asano, Furukawa, Okura, Nakajima, and Nomura. Each of these companies was actually a complex of companies and subsidiaries, unified under the direction of a single holding company. Each zaibatsu's holding company was owned and controlled by a single family, and it was the power held by these families, along with the system of economic concentration and monopoly control that these families maintained, that Occupation authorities endeavored to dismantle. Although the holdings of these companies were officially dissolved during the Occupation, the postwar corporate groupings (keiretsu) are often regarded as their direct successors. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)
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