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The House of Mitsui

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Title: The House of Mitsui
Authors: Sakamoto, Naomi
Advisor: Sakai, Robert K.
Issue Date: 26 Sep 2014
Publisher: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Abstract: The Mitsu’s are a proud and old family, descended from the Fujiwaras whose ancestor stood on the right side of the Heavenly Grandchild when he was commanded by the Sun Goddess to go to the land of the Luxurious Reed and establish an everlasting rule… From such romantic mythical origins, the Mitsuis eventually became Japan's foremost family in the economic realm. The House of Mitsui emerged as a prominent economic entity in the early part of the Tokugawa era (1603- 1868), and has remained as an integral financial structure till the present day. Thus, this centuries old family history mirrors somewhat a collage of early modern Japan. The Mitsuis successively experienced the Tokugawa political consolidation and economic prosperity, the modernization traumas of the Meiji Restorationists, and the political and economic developments of the early twentieth century which culminated in the militarist regime. This study of the House of Mitsui presents three possible factors for its long existence. First, a persistent affiliation with each current political body was highly advantageous to the House. Ties were maintained in several ways: in an economic capacity, the House as an entity would provide generous loans to the government and other financial services; politically, the Mitsuis were quite involved in government affairs as several members of the House held official positions; and on a personal basis, the family maintained friendship and marriage ties with government members, as well as extended political contributions to particular figures. Second, the Mitsui ie(household)-dozoku(association of households) organizational structure possessed a high degree of resilience as it was possible to retain basic organizational and associative patterns despite changed economic and political functions. Third, the ideological orientation of the Mitsui House reaffirmed its structural cohesion. Values of familism, paternal concern, and collective welfare, were easily translated into oyako kankei (parent-child, master-subordinate ) relationships which existed within each ie as well as between ie constituents of the Mitsui dozoku. The history of the House of Mitsui is significant because it reflects Japan's economic experience during the crucial transition from a traditional to modern society. This family history also demonstrates many elements of continuity and provides an example of the flexibility of traditional social organizational patterns and values within a context of modernization.
Pages/Duration: 59 pages
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/33878
Rights: All UHM Honors Projects are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections:Honors Projects for History



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