Sumitomo Corporation

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Not to be confused with Sumitomo Group.
Sumitomo Corporation
Public KK
Traded as TYO: 8053
OSE: 8053
NSE: 8053
FSE: 8053
TOPIX 100 Component
Nikkei 225 Component
Industry General trading
Founded Osaka, Japan (December 24, 1919; 95 years ago (1919-12-24))
Headquarters Harumi Island Triton Square Office Tower Y 8-11 Harumi 1-chome, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-8610, Japan
Key people
Kazuo Ohmori
Kuniharu Nakamura
(President and CEO)
Services Metal
Mineral resources
Consumer Goods

Increase$ 32.16 billion USD (FY 2013)

(¥ 3,317 billion JPY) (FY 2013)

Decrease$ 2.16 billion USD (FY 2013)

(¥ 223.06 billion JPY) (FY 2013)
Number of employees
74,638 (consolidated as of March 31, 2014)
Website Official website
Footnotes / references

Sumitomo Corporation (住友商事株式会社 Sumitomo Shōji Kabushiki-gaisha?) is one of the largest worldwide Sogo shosha general trading companies, and is a diversified corporation. The company was incorporated in 1919, it is a member company of the Sumitomo Group.

It is listed on four Japanese stock exchanges (Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka) and is a constituent of the TOPIX and Nikkei 225 stock indices.[4][5] Today, the company is one of the top three Sogo shosha companies in the world.


The Sumitomo Group, of which Sumitomo Corporation is a key member, dates to the 17th century establishment of a book and medicine shop in Kyoto by Masatomo Sumitomo. Sumitomo's brother-in-law Riemon Soga developed a technology to extract silver from copper, and Soga's son (who married Sumitomo's daughter) Tomomochi Sumitomo expanded this smelting business to Osaka. From this start, the Sumitomo family expanded its business into copper mining (the Besshi copper mine), followed by textiles, sugar and medicine trading.[6]

The Sumitomo family was close to the Tokugawa shogunate throughout the Edo period. During the 1860s, this relationship became a liability for the firm as the Tokugawa clan warred with rivals in western Japan. Following the Tokugawas' defeat, Sumitomo was almost ruined and under pressure to sell the Besshi mine, which by that point was nearly unworkable. However, Sumitomo kept the mine and improved its output through adoption of new Western techniques.[7] During the rapid westernization of Japan in ensuing decades, Sumitomo started various new trading, manufacturing and financing businesses, becoming one of the major zaibatsu of early 20th century Japan.[6]

Sumitomo Corporation was incorporated in December 1919 as The Osaka North Harbour Co., Ltd. to engage in real estate management, land reclamation, land grading, harbor repair construction and related work in the Osaka northern harbor region. In 1944, the company merged with Sumitomo Building Co., Ltd. (established August 1923; capital stock 6.5 million yen) to form Sumitomo Building and Real Estate Co., Ltd.[8]

World War II destroyed most of Sumitomo's industrial infrastructure within Japan, and the ensuing Allied occupation led to the forced breakup of the largest Japanese companies, including Sumitomo.[7] Sumitomo Building transitioned to general trading, looking to handle products from Japan's major manufacturing firms in various industries, and changed its name to Nippon Engineering Co., Ltd. (Nihon Kensetsu Sangyo Kaisha), starting a new existence as a general trading firm with a sales staff of just 32 people. The firm listed its shares on the Osaka, Tokyo and Nagoya Stock Exchanges in 1949.[6][8]

As regulations on large companies were relaxed in the 1950s, Nippon Engineering resumed closer relations with other Sumitomo Group companies through the "White Water Club" (Hakusui-kai), a coordinating meeting of company presidents.[7] The company began to grow overseas in the 1950s, starting business in Mumbai in 1950 and in New York City in 1952. It changed its name to Sumitomo Shoji Kaisha, Ltd. in 1952. By the 1960s Sumitomo officially aimed to be one of the "Big Three" general trading companies, alongside Mitsubishi and Mitsui. In 1970, Sumitomo established a second head office in Tokyo and merged with Sogo Boeki Co., Ltd. Sumitomo adopted its current English name, Sumitomo Corporation, in 1978.[8] The company's transactional volume increased by a factor of ten from 1955 to 1965, and again by a factor of ten from 1965 to 1975. Like its zaibatsu cohorts Mitsubishi and Mitsui, Sumitomo established a keiretsu business group centered around itself and Sumitomo Bank.[7]

Sumitomo's strategy focused on natural resources through 2014, when the company booked hundreds of billions of yen in losses on shale oil and other energy-related investments. The company's president, Kuniharu Nakamura, attributed these losses to both adverse market factors and Sumitomo's relative inexperience in the field. As a result of these setbacks, Sumitomo was overtaken by Itochu as Japan's third-largest general trading company. Sumitomo announced in 2015 that it would refocus its business on the automotive and infrastructure industries and other non-resource businesses.[9]




  1. ^ "Corporate Profile". Sumitomo Corporation. Retrieved September 26, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Company Profile". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved September 26, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Company Financials". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved September 26, 2014. 
  4. ^ "TOPIX Core30 Components" (PDF). Japan Exchange Group. Retrieved September 26, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Components:Nikkei Stock Average". Nikkei Inc. Retrieved September 25, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c "Sumitomo History". Sumitomo Corporation. Retrieved 26 January 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c d "History of Sumitomo Corporation". Reference for Business. Retrieved 26 January 2015. 
  8. ^ a b c "Sumitomo History". Sumitomo Corporation. Retrieved 26 January 2015. 
  9. ^ "Getting burned in resources, Sumitomo changes tack". Nikkei Asian Review. 26 March 2015. Retrieved 27 March 2015. 

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