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15 Mar 2002
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Zaibatsu (財閥, literally "wealthy clique") refers to industrial and financial combines of a conglomerate type that dominated the Japanese economy between the Meiji Period (1868-1912) and World War II. Created by powerful industrial families, they were operated through a tight network of parent companies (本社 honsha) and subsidiaries. Although officially dissolved in the Occupation period following the war, the new corporate groupings called keiretsu (系列, "series", or "grouping of enterprises") - often regarded as their direct successors - were instrumental in the economic post-war boom and of immense significance to Japan's economy until the beginning of the 21st century.

The term "zaibatsu" is composed of two elements: 財 (zai, "wealth") and 閥 (batsu, "group", "clique", or "estate"). Originally a term referring to political groups, it has been commonly applied to...

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