When its equity and property bubbles burst in the early 1990s, the keiretsu system
-- "main banks" and their tightly connected nonbank corporates -- imploded under the deadweight of excess leverage.
The Japanese keiretsu system
, which many American companies do not condone, is a system that partners or collaborates between the OEM and supplier mostly because the OEM typically has ownership stake in the supplier so the collaboration is somewhat forced.
RW: The Toyota keiretsu system
has been given as one reason to hook up with Mitsui.
Further, given that the keiretsu system
is a key distinguishing feature of the Japanese industrial system, we also investigate the differences between keiretsu and non-keiretsu firms in how they responded to these two forces.
The keiretsu system
(wherein large Japanese companies own a percentage of their top suppliers) has been used for many years in Japan.
"People said, 'You can't touch the keiretsu system
,"' recalls Ghosn, referring to Japan's system of interlocking industrial cartels, "'you can't close plants in Japan, you can't reduce head count in Japan."'
For example, it is apparent from our interviews that the keiretsu system
is being adapted with primary suppliers no longer dedicated solely to one major assembler.
For example, parts procurement in the auto industry has long been viewed as a model of Japanese vertical keiretsu, but Japanese automakers purchased $15.5 billion of U.S.-made parts in 1993, a six-fold jump since 1986.(98) In 1994, Japanese car companies did business with 1,245 companies, compared with only 298 in 1987.(99) Purchasing companies, pressured by global competition, have sought lower-cost suppliers outside of their keiretsu networks.(100) The merger of the Industrial Bank of Japan (IBJ), Fuji Bank, and Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank (DKB) announced in the fall of 1999, and any further banking consolidation, will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the keiretsu system
.(101) The most likely effect will be the dilution of the major keiretsu groups' power and influence.
Yasuo Uchihara, the network's president, said Japanese subcontractors have always looked up for business in the vertically structured keiretsu system
, with big corporations at the top.
The keiretsu system
has been one of the key ingredients for the Japanese economic miracle.
He said Singapore banks should avoid the problem now posed by Japan's keiretsu system
, which links a group of companies with a main bank.
This reaction suggests that the country's communications media are coming to accept both the dismemberment of the once all-powerful keiretsu system
and corporate restructuring as a way of revitalizing Japan's ailing businesses.