chapter
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he be the only son, he is shihainin the head of the Chief House, and that manage­ the family should take up the

to be disinherited and an adopted son taken in. But whether natural or adopted son, as long as he is young he must work and be treated like any other employee. 12 (Some details on management of capital funds.) 13 Should disaster strike the joint family enterprise, only the

The astonishing pace of adaptation of the House of Mitsui to the conditions of the Meiji economy will be discussed in the next chapter. Much credit for this successful transition is, un­ doubtedly, due to the chief manager Minomura. But two other important factors preserved Mitsui from that kind of conservative ossification which became fatal for so many Osaka merchant Houses. Mitsui's was not a wholesale enterprise like the many large Osaka wholesalers which could rely on their assured outlets. The Echigoya chain stores had to cater for a public whose fancy could not be commandeered. The Echigoyas had, guild or no guild, to compete for buyers, they used advertising techniques and customer service approaches which remind one very much of modern retailing. No House constitution could change this condi­ tion and hence had not a similar artery-hardening effect on management as had the customs, and guild rules, and House constitutions of typical Osaka tonya. Moreover, because they ran chain-stores in this competitive environment, and because they could rely on the fabulous resources of the joint Mitsui family system, the Mitsui managers could make the best use of their superior conditions to stay ahead of the pack of competitors and preserved a keen sense of leadership.