Mitsubishi Corporation

vol.3 Timeline of the Life & Times of Yataro Iwasaki

Our Roots A history of rising to the challenge

vol.3 Timeline of the Life & Times of Yataro Iwasaki

Photos courtesy of the Mitsubishi Archive

We chronicle the story of Mitsubishi founder
Yataro Iwasaki through a timeline of his life.

Timeline & Key Developments

*Historical Events

0yrs.(1835) Birth of Yataro

Yataro is born into a poor family in Tosa Province (modern-day Kochi Prefecture).

*Commodore Perry arrives in Japan (1853)

19yrs.-20yrs. Yataro goes to Edo* to study See Episode below

*Modern-day Tokyo

  23yrs. Yataro studies under Toyo Yoshida

After returning to Tosa following a family emergency, Yataro angers a local magistrate and is imprisoned. After his release, Yataro enters a school established by Toyo Yoshida (an influential Tosa official).

*U.S. Civil War (1861-1865)

24yrs.-31yrs. Yataro is dispatched to Nagasaki

Yataro is dispatched to Nagasaki by the Tosa Clan, but then loses his position after returning home without permission to seek a loan. Yataro buys back his family's samurai status. At 27, he marries Kise and their first son, Hisaya, is born.

*Restoration of imperial rule in Japan (1867)

32yrs. Yataro returns to Nagasaki

Yataro takes up a post at the Tosa Clan's Nagasaki trading office, where he meets Ryoma Sakamoto*.
*A heroic figure from Japanese history during the days leading up to the Meiji Restoration.

  34yrs. Yataro is transferred to Osaka

Yataro is placed in charge of the Tosa Clan's Osaka trading office and then supervises Tsukumo Shokai after it is established by Tosa samurai.

*Franco-Prussian War

38yrs. Company changes name to Mitsubishi

Yataro assumes the management of Tsukumo Shokai after the government abolishes clan rule. The company takes the name of Mitsukawa Shokai and then later becomes Mitsubishi Shokai.

  39yrs. Headquarters moved to Tokyo

The company changes its name to Mitsubishi Jokisen Kaisha (Mitsubishi Steamship Company).

  40yrs. Regular service to Shanghai begins

The company establishes regular service between Yokohama and Shanghai. It adopts the name Yubin Kisen Mitsubishi (Mitsubishi Mail Steamship) and becomes a favored enterprise of the Japanese government. Mitsubishi Iron Works is established.

*Bell invents telephone

41yrs. Mitsubishi establishes school for merchant marines
Mitsubishi dispenses Japan's first bonuses


*Edison invents phonograph

42yrs. Mitsubishi entrusted with military transport again

Mitsubishi wins the trust of the government through its handling of military transport during the Satsuma Rebellion and builds a strong financial base.

  43yrs. Mitsubishi establishes business school


  44yrs.-45yrs. Mitsubishi diversifies

Mitsubishi supports the establishment of Tokio Marine Insurance Company and continues to diversify its business, entering such fields as copper mining, finance and warehousing, water services, and insurance.

  46yrs.-47yrs. Diversification continues

Mitsubishi purchases the Takashima Coal Mine and supports the establishment of Meiji Life Insurance.

  48yrs.-49yrs. Fierce competition develops with
rival shipping company

Fearing the failure of both companies, the government negotiates a merger of the two companies and Nippon Yusen is established the following year. Yataro leases the Nagasaki shipyard from the government.

  50yrs.(1885) Yataro passes away on February 7

At Yataro's bequest, Yanosuke takes over the company. Mitsubishi is later passed on to Hisaya and Koyata, and Yataro's legacy continues to live on today through "the Mitsubishi companies".

Episode from Yataro's Youth

In 1854, Yataro secured a chance to study in Edo. The night before his departure for Edo, Yataro hiked up to a local shrine that stood behind the village and wrote the following words on the shrine's gate: "I will not climb this mountain again until I have realized my aspirations."