Iwasaki Yatarō (岩崎 弥太郎, January 9, 1835 – February 7,
1885) was a Japanese financier and shipping industrialist, and the
founder of Mitsubishi.
1 Early life
3 See also
6 External links
Iwasaki was born in a provincial farming family in Aki, Tosa province
(now Kōchi Prefecture), the great-grandson of a man who had sold his
family's samurai status in obligation of debts. Iwasaki began his
career as an employee of the Tosa clan. The clan had business
interests in many parts of Japan.
Iwasaki left for Edo (now Tokyo) aged nineteen for his education. He
interrupted his studies a year later when his father was seriously
injured in a dispute with the village headman. When the local
magistrate refused to hear his case, Iwasaki accused him of
corruption. Iwasaki was sent to prison for seven months. After his
release, Iwasaki was without a job for a time before finding work as a
Returning to Edo, he socialised with political activists and studied
under the reformist Yoshida Toyo, who influenced him with ideas of
opening and developing the then-closed nation through industry and
foreign trade. Through Yoshida, he found work as a clerk for the Tosa
government, and bought back his family's samurai status. He was
promoted to the top position at the Tosa clan's trading office in
Nagasaki, responsible for trading camphor oil and paper to buy ships,
weapons, and ammunition.
Meiji Restoration in 1868, which forced the disbandment
of the shogunate's business interests, Iwasaki travelled to
leased the trading rights for the Tosa clan's Tsukumo Trading Company.
The company changed its name to
Mitsubishi in 1873.
Yamanouchi clan, family crest
Logo of Mitsubishi
Iwasaki became president of
Mitsubishi in March 1870. The name
Mitsubishi is a compound of mitsu ("three") and hishi (literally,
"water chestnut", often used in Japanese to denote a diamond or
rhombus). Its emblem was a combination of the Iwasaki family crest and
the oak-leaf crest of the Yamauchi family, who were leaders of the
Tosa clan, which controlled the part of Shikoku where Yatarō was
In 1874–1875, Iwasaki was contracted by the Japanese government to
transport Japanese soldiers and war materials. The Japanese government
purchased a number of ships for the Japanese Expedition of 1874 to
Taiwan against Paiwan Aborigines in southeast Taiwan, and these ships
were later given to
Mitsubishi after the expedition was finished in
1875. This created strong links between
Mitsubishi and the Japanese
government that ensured the new company's success. In return,
Mitsubishi supported the new Japanese government and transported
troops who defeated the
Satsuma Rebellion in 1877. Thus the success of
Mitsubishi became intertwined with the rise of the modern Japanese
Subsequently he invested in mining, ship repair, and finance. In 1884
he took a lease on the Nagasaki Shipyard, which allowed the company to
undertake shipbuilding on a large scale, and renamed it Nagasaki
Shipyard & Machinery Works.
Iwasaki Yatarō often gave dinners for dignitaries, spending a huge
amount of money on these occasions, but he also made many friends who
later helped him by doing favors.
Iwasaki died of stomach cancer aged 50, and was succeeded as the head
of the family business first by his brother, and later his son,
Thomas Blake Glover
^ "Obituary". The Times (31373). London. 18 February 1885.
"The Man Who Started It All", Mitsubishi.com
Mitsubishi Mark", Mitsubishi.com
"The origin of MHI can be traced all the way back to 1884", MHI-ir.jp
Weston, Mark (July 1999). Giants of Japan: The Lives of Japan's
Greatest Men and Women. New York: Kodansha America.
Woy, Jean L. (2005). The Human Record: Sources of Global History.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. pp. 353–356.
Yamamura, Kozo (Summer 1967). "The Founding of Mitsubishi: A Case
Study in Japanese Business History". The Business History Review. 41
(2): 141–160. JSTOR 3112564.
Media related to Iwasaki Yataro at Wikimedia Commons
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