Mitsubishi DNA Passed Down to the Next Generation


Mitsubishi Materials originated from Tsukumo Shokai (the seed of the Mitsubishi Group), the coal and mineral mining business that Yataro Iwasaki started in 1871. The Mitsubishi Group has expanded over four generations, from Yataro to his younger brother Yanosuke, to Yataro’s first son Hisaya, and on to Yanosuke’s first son Koyata. Looking back over its history, we see common principles passed down over the generations. These principles called, The Three Mitsubishi Principles, became the common management philosophy for the entire Group of Mitsubishi companies in 2011. Here we explain these three principles that provide the foundation of common management practice among the Mitsubishi Group’s approximately 650 companies.

1. Shoki Hoko – Corporate Social Responsibility

Strive to enrich society, both materially and spiritually, while contributing to the preservation of the global environment.

Fourth-generation President Koyata Iwasaki led Mitsubishi for 29 years from 1916, the years spanning from World War I to the end of World War II. He stated clearly on many occasions that “Corporate management should not be conducted from the perspective of profit, but from the standpoint of a national project.” This Mitsubishi principle was passed down to each president, from Yataro to Yanosuke, Hisaya and Koyata Iwasaki.

Koyata Iwasaki also said, “Production is one of the country’s most important activities. It is associated with national strength and has an impact on the economy and prosperity. Being engaged in production, we are, in a real way, playing an extremely important role. The ultimate purpose of business therefore is to contribute to the nation and we exert our best effort in fulfilling this purpose (source: The Announcement at the Mitsubishi Mining Company Extraordinary Conference Held in 1920.”

Koyata Iwasaki had a firm management philosophy, the social contribution expected in the growth of Japanese capitalism between the Taisho Period (1912-1926) and Showa Period (1926-1989). It is also a fact that our present affluence comes at the cost of the global environment. This fact makes it clear that our mission must be to change our way of business in ways that contribute to the maintenance and restoration of our irreplaceable global environment, and to the realization of physical and psychological affluence throughout society. This is how we interpret the meaning of shoki hoko at present.

2. Shoji Komei – Integrity and Fairness

Maintain principles of transparency and openness and conduct business with integrity and fairness.

Shoji komei means fairness in all things. All Mitsubishi presidents, from Yataro Iwasaki to the present day have repeatedly insisted that Mitsubishi business management will not prioritize profit as an end in and of itself. Fourth-generation president Koyata Iwasaki in particular, was known to prioritize sincerity and to repeatedly caution Mitsubishi employees against focusing blindly on profits and pursuing unthoughtful investment to that end. He exhorted employees to maintain a high standard of ethical behavior in all transactions.

“The social position of corporations has advanced, and their growth is significantly associated with the growth of the nation. On the other hand, sadly, corporate morality seems to have deteriorated. Those in business must serve as an ideal model for others in their behavior and thought. While integrity and fairness are the most important aspects of business, it is shameful that people try to make fortunes at a stroke or through means that are contrary to our ideal of social justice. (source: An article “My Hope to the Club” written by Yanosuke Iwasaki, Vice-President, to the Mitsubishi Club Journal in 1915).”

Although fair competition based on free ingenuity is the basic principle of the market economy, we need to consider the sentiments of the general public, the customs of international society and compliance with law. We need to exhibit high ethical standards and conduct and promote transparency and openness in our business activities.

3. Ritsugyo Boeki – Global Understanding through Business

Expand business from an all-encompassing global perspective.

The biggest issue for modern Japan was the adjustment to globalization. Since the time of founding President Yataro Iwasaki, Mitsubishi has promoted this attitude amongst its employees. In 1941, on the day following the outbreak of the Pacific War, President Koyata made an announcement to the top management of all Mitsubishi group companies, “While governments have, unfortunately, started a war, we count many British and Americans amongst our partners. They have undertaken many projects with us and so we have a duty to protect their lives and interests.” Considering the historical background at that time, he made a surprisingly courageous statement.

“Even if the government takes action against the businesses and assets of our British and American partners, we should prevent the trust and friendship we have developed with them from being damaged. Justice, humanity and responsibility demand that we protect their lives and interests using every means within the limits of the law. When peace comes again, we will once again cooperate together to contribute to the realization of world peace and the well-being of all (source: Speech made by Koyata Iwasaki at Mitsubishi Council in 1941).”

Respect for justice has been one of the basic principles of Mitsubishi Group since its foundation. This attitude of respecting justice from a global perspective in the midst of war embodies the Mitsubishi spirit. Mitsubishi Materials Corporation and other group companies keep the spirit of The Three Mitsubishi Principles (Sankoryo) in mind as they take further steps toward the future.

3. Ritsugyo Boeki – Global Understanding through Business
Cooperation & Photos: Archives Division, The Mitsubishi Economic Research Institute