Sumitomo Group

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Sumitomo Group
Founded1615; 409 years ago (1615)
HeadquartersTokyo, Japan
ProductsCurrent or former Sumitomo Group members
WebsiteSumitomo Group Public Affairs Committee

The Sumitomo Group (Japanese: 住友グループ, Hepburn: Sumitomo Gurūpu) is a Japanese corporate group and keiretsu that traces its roots to the zaibatsu groups that were dissolved after World War II. Unlike the zaibatsu of the pre-war period, there is no controlling company with regulatory power. Instead, the companies in the group hold shares in each other, but they are limited to exchanging information and coordinating plans through regular meetings.


The Sumitomo Group traces its roots to a bookshop in Kyoto founded circa 1615 by Masatomo Sumitomo, a former Buddhist monk.[1] Even today, management of the group is guided by his "Founder's Precepts", written in the 17th century.[1]

Copper refining made the company famous. Riemon Soga, Masatomo Sumitomo's brother-in-law, learned Western methods of copper refining. In 1590, he established a smelting business, Izumiya, literally meaning "spring shop".[1] Riemon perfected techniques that allowed the extraction of silver from copper ore, something Japanese technology had not previously accomplished.[1]

The smelting and smithing business was moved from Kyoto to Osaka by the late 17th century.[1] Soga passed control of the company to his son Tomomochi who managed its transformation into a major trading house[2] during the Edo period.[3] Sumitomo began to export copper,[4] import silk,[4] and provide financial services.[5] By 1691, copper mining had been added to the portfolio.[6][7][8]

Igeta mark
Igeta mark

The Meiji Restoration allowed Sumitomo to import and utilize Western machines and techniques in its mines.[6] Sumitomo soon branched out into even more business areas entering the machine and coal industries, as well as the forestry, banking and warehousing businesses[6] becoming a zaibatsu,[3] or business conglomerate.

After World War II, the Japanese zaibatsu conglomerates, including Sumitomo, were dissolved by the GHQ and the Japanese government. The group reformed as a keiretsu, a group of independent companies organized around The Sumitomo Bank (now Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation) and bound together by cross shareholding.

Many companies continue to use the word Sumitomo in their corporate names. Most of them are managed independently and listed at Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) and other stock exchanges with highly dispersed shareholders. For some, the name only shows their historic origin, and they are no longer considered part of the Sumitomo Group.

In 1982, Sumitomo reported an energy conservation program.[9]


The diamond-shaped igeta mark is reminiscent of a type of frame placed over a well in premodern Japan and was the logo of Riemon Soga's Izumiya company.[1]

Current or former Sumitomo Group members[edit]

Company Industry
Mazda Motor Corporation Automobiles
Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Insurance
NEC Corporation* Electronics and electric products
Nippon Sheet Glass Co Ltd Glass
Osaka Titanium Technologies Co Ltd Titanium products
Sumisho Computer Systems[10] Information Technology
Sumitomo Bakelite Co., Ltd. Chemicals
Sumitomo Chemical* Chemicals
Sumitomo Corporation* Integrated trading
Sumitomo Electric Bordnetze Auto parts suppliers
Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd.* Electronics and electric products
Sumitomo Forestry Co., Ltd. Lumber and housing
Sumitomo Heavy Industries* Machinery, weaponry, and shipbuilding
Sumitomo Life Insurance
Nippon Steel* Steel
Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., Ltd.* Non-ferrous metal
Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group* Finance
Sumitomo Mitsui Construction Construction
Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings* Finance
Sumitomo Osaka Cement* Cement
Sumitomo Precision Products Precision machinery
Sumitomo Realty & Development* Real estate
Sumitomo Riko Rubber materials for vehicles, printers and constructions
Sumitomo Rubber Industries Tires and rubber products
The Sumitomo Warehouse Co., Ltd. Warehousing

* Nikkei 225 constituent company.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Company History". Sumitomo Corporation.
  2. ^ "Sumitomo in History, part I: A Business Spirit Alive and Well After 400 Years, A Meeting with Copper". Sumitomo Group.
  3. ^ a b "Sumitomo Group". Encyclopædia Britannica – via
  4. ^ a b "Sumitomo in History, part II: Japanese Copper Across the Sea, Contributing to the Wealth of the Nation". Sumitomo Group.
  5. ^ "Sumitomo in History, part III: Japan's Kitchen, New Businesses Emerge". Sumitomo Group.
  6. ^ a b c "About Us". Sumitomo Corporation.
  7. ^ "Sumitomo in History, part IV: Milestones, Major Copper Vein Discovered". Sumitomo Group.
  8. ^ "Sumitomo in History, part VI: A Time of Adversity, The End of Rule by the Samurai". Sumitomo Group.
  9. ^ Yamamoto, T.; Yamamori, K. (1982-01-01). "Sumitomo Metal Industries' energy conservation program". Sumitomo Kinzoku; (Japan) (in Japanese). 34:3.
  10. ^ "Corporate History - Sumisho Computer Systems Corporation". Retrieved 2010-09-19.

External links[edit]