BUSINESS ABROAD: Return of the Zaibatsu

Of all the Japanese traditions that dropped out of sight during the occupation, none seemed to disappear more completely than the zaibatsu, the huge cartels controlled since the Meiji Era (1868-1912) by a handful of great Japanese families. To shatter the economic foundation of Japanese militarism, U.S. authorities split such prominent family combines—Mitsubishi, Mitsui and all the rest —into hundreds of small firms, and the Japanese government itself adopted Western-inspired antitrust laws. But zaibatsu, like many another Japanese tradition, proved tougher than reform. Last week the influence and power of the...

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