Our History

The Business History Society of Japan (BHSJ) was founded in November 1964. One of the maing purposes to establish the BHSJ was to explore and understand the features of Japanese companies, which were becoming increasingly present in world markets during the high-growth period (mid-1950s to 1973). Professors Wakimura Yoshitarō (1900-1997), Miyamoto Mataji (1907-1991) and Nakagawa Keiichirō (1920-2007) played a significant role in the organization’s establishment. Wakimura, who began research on business history in the prewar era, was a pioneer in the field. Miyamoto has garnered recognition as a pathfinder in developing Japan's business history as a research field by focusing on merchants' roles in Japanese business. Nakagawa, meanwhile, was one of the first researchers to introduce methodologies in business history and also helped open up the new research area of comparative business history.

Thanks to the generous financial support of the Taniguchi Foundation, BHSJ held the first in a long series of Fuji Conferences—an effort to foster exchanges between Japanese scholars and foreign scholars—in 1974. At the first Fuji Conference, there were ten presentations by Japanese business historians and two by presenters invited from overseas: Alfred D. Chandler of Harvard Business School and Charles Wilson of Cambridge University. The Fuji Conferences have greatly contributed to the internationalization of BHSJ through the publication of the Fuji Conference Proceedings by the University of Tokyo Press (20 volumes) and Oxford University Press (five volumes). The dissolution of the Taniguchi Foundation in 1998, however, made it difficult to hold the Fuji conference on a yearly basis. BHSJ has nonetheless endeavored to continue the Fuji Conference tradition under a new name, the International Conference on Business History, which meets once every three years. In addition to this conference, BHSJ has also hosted bilateral business history workshops with scholars from other countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Germany, South Korea, and Thailand. The future challenge is to expand relationships with researchers from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China.

BHSJ published Keieishigaku no Nijūnen (Twenty Years of Business History studies) in 1985 with the University of Tokyo Press and Keieishigaku no Gojūnen (Fifty Years of Business History studies) in 2015 with Nihon Keizai Hyouronsha in order to record and reflect upon business history research in Japan. In Twenty Years of Business History studies, authors uncovered the historical origins of Japanese management. However, current Japanese firms are seeking new approaches in the face of grand challenges such as the country’s declining population and aging society. BHSJ shall provide new insights with a dialog between the present and the past, all the while bridging methodologies ranging from economics and management studies to history.