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Asano Soichiro

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Asano Soichiro was an influential Japanese businessman who is credited with founding numerous companies, including what became today’s JFE Group. Born in 1848 in the Japanese province of Etchu, Soichiro was the son of Doctor Asano Taijun and came from a samurai family in the Toyama region.

Asano chose a career in business, but did not get off to a great start as his first company failed. In 1871 he decided to become a coal merchant in Tokyo, an experience that would influence his future ventures. In 1876, Asano would develop different methods for using coke in cement production, which would turn out to be extremely successful. Asano purchased a large cement company from the Japanese government in 1884, which he would later rename Asano Cement Company. He was able to acquire this company with the help of Shibusawa Eiichi, a widely known Japanese industrialist. The Asano Cement Company was a cornerstone of the Asano zaibatsu, which would eventually come to include shipping and shipbuilding, mining, gas and electricity, oil, iron, steel, and beer brewing. Asano’s zaibatsu (a Japanese term for industrial and financial business conglomerates) also included 26 subsidiaries, 26 affiliates, and 6 associated concerns. It was broken into separate enterprises by Japanese authorities in 1947.

Asano’s eventually built up the zaibatsu to nearly 90 companies, many of which are still managed today by his family. He is referred to as the “cement king of the Meiji period”.

In addition to his contribution to Japan’s industrialization, Asano established the initial JR Tsurumi Line, located between Tokyo and Yokohama. Today the Asano Station stands as a reminder of the businessman’s role in Japan’s railway system. He passed away in 1930 at the age of 82.

Companies and Investments

JFE Group (Founder), Asano Cement Company (Founder), Asano zaibatsu (Founder)

Lessons Learned

You can do anything you set your mind to.

Through my numerous business acquisitions, I learned how to delegate tasks to create a highly functional, efficient company.

Being responsible for the Asano zaibatsu (industrial combine) taught me a great deal about how businesses operate and work with one another.

Inspiring Quotes

Asano Soichiro's Quotes

Influential Books


Shibusawa Eiichi