Ever wondered what the largest company in Japan is?
Japan has the third largest economy in the world — it’s a highly-developed country. There are many well-known Japanese brands we shop from, sometimes without even knowing they’re Japanese.
And while we specialize in jobs for software engineers in Japan here, today I'll give an overview of business in Japan and showcase the 10 largest companies in Japan.
What Is the Biggest Company in Japan?
This may be a bit of a spoiler before I go into the list, but it’s not a big secret. The biggest company in Japan is Toyota Motors, and it has been for a while now. According to Forbes 2000 list, it’s also the 10th biggest company in the world.
You might think it’s strange that Toyota, an automobile manufacturer, is the largest company in Japan in the year 2022. Yes, it’s a giant corporation that’s been on the scene for a while, but still, why not a tech company? After all, these days, the world's largest and most successful companies are a select few tech companies.
For example, the largest companies in the US are all tech giants and most are FAANG companies like Microsoft and Apple, which are also the top players worldwide.
Of course, they aren’t just tech companies in the traditional sense. They have the internet as their focal point. It’s a core part of their business and it’s what sets them apart. It’s also what’s bringing in the big bucks in this day and age. But things are a bit different in Japan.
Tech vs Non-Tech
Arguably, there are tech companies among the largest in Japan, but not in the sense that I mean. Not like Google, Meta, or Microsoft.
In Japan, business models shaped around the internet are still a bit of a novelty.
Startups like Mercari and SmartNews did manage to grow and become the first unicorn startups in Japan, but that was only a few years ago, in 2018.
Currently, the tech companies on this largest 10 list don’t fit the bill. Some are in the tech world, but they aren’t internet companies.
Nippon Telegraph and Telephone is mostly about infrastructure. Sony might pass as a tech company, but only in the traditional sense since it isn’t an internet company.
On the other hand, some internet tech companies in Japan are growing larger. Z Holdings, the owner of Yahoo! And Line, is having a moment and is a candidate to become one of the largest.
Similarly, M3 incorporated, despite not being well-known, is a company that provides online services to medical professionals and has reached a market cap of $21.45 billion.
It’s interesting to see if this trend will keep up. We’ll wait and see if this trend continues and more internet companies dominate the market.
Who isn’t familiar with Nintendo? The company single-handedly shaped the trajectory of the gaming industry in the late ‘80s and has been a staple name in the business ever since.
Currently, Nintendo is the tenth largest company in Japan and ranks #481 on the Forbes 2000 list. With a market value of $50.67 billion, the company is rising on the list as it wasn’t in the top ten until recently.
Nintendo is based in Kyoto but operates worldwide thanks to its European, North American, and Canadian branches.
9. Daiichi Sankyo
One of the largest pharmaceutical companies in Japan, Daiichi Sankyo is a global company that operates in the healthcare industry. The company’s main operations are the research, development, and sales of pharmaceutical products.
Daiichi Sankyo has a market value of $56.68 billion, and its global rank in Forbes 2000 is #864 as of 2022. The company was established in 2005 and currently employs over 16.000 people.
8. Fast Retailing
Fast Retailing is a multinational retail company. The holding is the owner of some well-known brands. The casual wear brand Uniqlo is the most famous, but Fast Retailing also owns brands like Global Brand and J Brand, which are pretty popular in Japan.
The company is also branching out these brands to countries overseas. The first store for the Fast Retailing-owned brand GU opened in New York this past April.
The company has a market value of $58.02 billion, and currently holds the 498th spot on Forbes 2000 list.
With headquarters in Yamaguchi, Fast Retailing has been in business since 1963.
Softbank is a multinational communications and internet conglomerate with many well-known, successful subsidiaries. As it’s a holding, the company’s full name is Softbank Group Corp., and Yahoo and PayPay are among SoftBank’s best-performing subsidiaries.
Additionally, the company also owns Sprint, which is a phone and internet service provider that operates in the United States.
SoftBank currently has a market value of $59.66 billion, and its current rank on the Forbes 2000 list is 44, which is pretty impressive. The company is also on Fortune magazine’s Global 500 list and sits in the 234th spot.
6. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial
One of the world's leading financial groups, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, or MUFG for short, is another holding on the list. The company was known as MFTG before and added the UFJ to its name in 2005 when it acquired Japanese bank UFJ and became one of Japan’s largest banking groups.
The company currently has the largest bank in Japan and the fourth largest in the world.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group is on the 59th spot on Forbes Magazine’s global 2000 list, with a market value of $63.18 billion as of 2022. The company is also ranked at the 240th spot on Fortune Magazine’s Global 500 list.
Next on the list is a telecommunications company. KDDI is a phone service provider in Japan with a market value of $65.84 billion.
The company also has cloud services and cloud-based solutions for mobile smart devices. The most successful and well-known subsidiaries include the phone service operator “au” and the internet service provider company “BIGLOBE,” one of Japan's leading internet providers.
KDDI is on the 146th spot on Forbes Magazine’s global 2000 list.
Keyence is a multinational company that operates in the manufacturing, development, and sales of automation and inspection devices and industrial safety instruments.
Keyence manufactures various products in this range, including laser markers, automation sensors, safety laser scanners, microscopes, and other measuring devices.
The company has been operating since 1972, and its market value is currently at $84.84 billion.
Keyence is another company that consistently makes it to Forbes 2000 list, and its current ranking is #723 as of 2022. The Osaka-based company has over 8000 employees and operates in Germany and Italy through its subsidiaries.
Another company on the list that doesn’t need much explanation is Sony. The company is one of the largest companies in Japan, and rightfully so.
Sony is a multinational conglomerate company, and its primary operations are in electronics and media. The company also produces the popular game console PlayStation and its own game development studio.
Sony also has film production initiatives, as well as hardware electronics manufacturing initiatives. The company was founded in 1946 and has a market value of $90.73 billion.
Sony is ranked 116th on Fortune’s Global 500 list and 56th on the Forbes 2000 list.
2. Nippon Telegraph and Telephone
Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, better known as NTT, is another telecommunication company on the list.
The Tokyo-based company has been in operation since 1985, and it’s a holding that manages many subsidiaries that also operate mainly in telecommunications.
Although it’s the main focus of NTT, telecommunications is not the only area NTT is operating in. The holding company also has some subsidiaries operating in security, real estate, finance, engineering, and data processing.
Currently, NTT has a market value of $95.73 billion and ranks nicely at the 52nd spot on Forbes 2000 and 83rd on Fortune’s Global 500 list.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, Toyota Motors is currently the largest company in Japan.
The multinational automobile manufacturer is the owner of famous subsidiary brands like Lexus, Subaru, and Daihatsu. Besides automobile manufacturing, the company also engages in financial services to finance the sales of its cars and motorbikes.
Toyota is one of the largest automotive manufacturers in the world, and it has a market value of $192.12 billion as of this year. The company was founded in 1937.
Toyota also ranks on the Forbes 2000 list in 10th place this year, making it a top-10 global company. The company ranks 13th on the Fortune Global 500 list.
P.S Do you want to work in tech in Japan? Check out our list of software developer jobs in Japan. We curate jobs from the best Japanese startups and international companies to save you the time.