Japanese SOGO SHOSHA & lessons for Pakistan

By Faiza Zia

Can Pakistan create its own version of Japanese SOGO SHOSHA?

It was a rainy night. Quite some time had passed since World War II had ended but in Japan, the dismantled remnants of firms and houses could still be found scattered under the heavy downpour. In a dimly lit shop, a group of men could be seen whispering in hushed voices. From the looks on their faces, it was clear that an idea was brewing; an idea which guaranteed Japan’s recovery from the devastating repercussions of the war. These men understood the need to bring essential items such as food and raw materials into Japan to revive the industries and feed the population. However, there was more to the plan. Their idea was to establish themselves as intermediaries in trade.

The promising advent of SOGO SHOSHA was in the making…


SOGO SHOSHAPost-war Japan found itself bringing together the remnants of its destroyed cities. There was dearth of resources, food was in short supply and firms had stopped functioning. This lack of activity meant that the economic situation of Japan was in danger. It was during that crucial time that SOGO SHOSHA (総合商社) emerged as saviors of Japan.  Their arrival created a path for Japan through which growth and development entered the war stricken country, allowing it to become the great power that it is today. Soon enough, SOGO SHOSHA managed to grow beyond bounds and were able to establish a strong foothold in several countries.

While it appears to be a short phrase, SOGO SHOSHA’s significance is vast, encompassing commerce in its entirety. Hidden within its meaning are the secrets Japanese use in order to progress and it also contains lessons for struggling economies like Pakistan. The character “SO” refers to generality. “GO” further implies combination of various elements. Likewise, “SHO” is translated into business and “SHA” means organization.

Therefore, SOGO SHOSHA are a collection of diversified trading organizations with their roots in Japan. You and I are familiar with many of these organizations already. The seven SOGO SHOSHA currently operating globally are Toyota, Mitsubishi Corporation, Marubeni, Mitsui & Co., Sumitomo Corporation and Sojitz.

These organizations barged in and discovered the secrets to trade in Japan, realising that the best way to ensure that food and raw materials enter the country is to act as intermediary or middlemen, bringing together buyers and sellers. SOGO SHOSHA have expanding their operations all over the globe today.

They are engaging in every kind of operations, from energy to food commodities to manufacturing and transportation. It is commonly said that these organizations deal in “everything from noodles to satellites.” SOGO SHOSHA’s exclusive business method is what makes them unique as they deal in almost everything, which is a characteristic not found in businesses elsewhere. Despite having a vast network, SOGO SHOSHA operate in harmony and this is yet another unique characteristic that makes them stand apart.

Muhammad Irfan

The writer is assistant editor at Lahore Dispatch. He writes on Technology, education and Sports. You can find him on Google+

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