Shibusawa Eiichi was a Japanese industrialist widely known today as the "father of Japanese capitalism". He spearheaded the introduction of Western capitalism to Japan after the Meiji Restoration. He introduced many reforms including use of double entry accounting, joint stock corporations and modern note-issuing banks.
He founded the first modern bank based on joint stock ownership in Japan. The bank was aptly named The First National Bank (Dai-Ichi Kokuritsu Ginkou, now merged into Mizuho Bank) and had the power to issue its own notes. Through this bank, he founded hundreds of other joint stock corporations in Japan. Many of these companies still survive to this day as quoted companies in the Tokyo Stock Exchange, which Shibusawa also founded. The Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry was founded by him as well. He was also involved in the foundation of many hospitals, schools, universities (including the first women's university) and charitable organizations including the Japan Red Cross.
Another notable aspect of Shibusawa's career is that, despite being the founder of hundreds of corporations, he refused to maintain a controlling stake in these corporations, effectively preventing himself from forming a zaibatsu. What is known as the Shibusawa zaibatsu was a holding company to look after his estate for his family. The Shibusawa Zaibatsu did not hold any controlling stake in any companies. Despite his lowly origin as a farmer, he was granted the title of Viscount, while all other zaibatsu founders were awarded the title of Baron. He was also awarded Shounii, Second Honour under the ritsuryou rank system, which is usually given to high ranking nobility and prime ministers.
In addition, Shibusawa made efforts to promote exchange of goods and goodwill across national boundaries through private-sector diplomacy. Numerous guests from overseas visited the Shibusawa residence in Asukayama, Ouji, where they talked candidly with him.