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Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Company, Limited was created in 2001 through a merger between its predecessors, Mitsui Marine & Fire Insurance Co., Ltd. and The Sumitomo Marine & Fire Insurance Co Ltd. Their respective origins, “Mitsui” and “Sumitomo”, were established more than 300 years ago and still operate as business management groups (“Zaibatsu”, financial conglomerate) that have major influence both in Japan and the rest of the world.

The origins of the Mitsui conglomerate can be found in a shop dealing in kimono fabrics, called “Echigoya”, which was opened in 1673 by Takatoshi Mitsui, a merchant in Edo. Echigoya introduced innovative business methods to accommodate customers’ needs; for example, adopting over-the-counter sales and the cash-and-carry system for the first time in Japan, which generated great prosperity.

Mitsui focused on customer-centric business management and brand strategy and sought to boost employee motivation and satisfaction through personality-oriented performance evaluation. These approaches laid the foundation for Mitsui’s subsequent success and prosperity.

Meanwhile, the “Sumitomo” family headed by Masatomo Sumitomo, was engaged in copper trading and copper mine operations as its core businesses. In 1690, Sumitomo discovered what would become the Besshi Copper Mine in Ehime Prefecture and would prove to be one of the few big copper mines anywhere in the world. This discovery contributed significantly Japan’s economic development.

The company undertook tree planting and relocated copper refineries in order to mitigate the impact of copper production on the environment.We can see the seeds of CSR management in Sumitomo’s approach to contributing to development of the national and regional economies and addressing environmental issues.

Mitsui and Sumitomo continued to achieve sustainable development over the long term by properly fulfilling their obligation to care for the environment and earning the trust of their many and varied stakeholders, including customers, employees and communities. This philosophy has been inherited by Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance.


Takatoshi Mitsui

The name "Echigoya" was publicised by means of "flyers" and branded loan umbrellas.

Masatomo Sumitomo

Sumitomo proposed through diversification beyond copper into such commodities as yarns, fabrics, sugar and medicines.

Photo credits: ©公益財団法人三井文庫 | © 住友史料館

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