zaibatsu \zye-BAHT-soo\ noun
: a powerful financial and industrial conglomerate of Japan
As owners of a zaibatsu with interests in the insurance and banking industries, the family's decisions had an undeniable impact on the Japanese economy.
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"Zaibatsu" is a compound formed by the Japanese words "zai," meaning "money" or "wealth," and "batsu," meaning "clique" or "clan." The word refers to one of several large capitalist enterprises that developed in Japan after the Meiji Restoration of 1868 and that expanded rapidly during World War I. Each zaibatsu was typically organized around a single family and controlled interests in multiple areas, such as mining, foreign trade, textiles, insurance, and especially banks. While zaibatsus were dissolved during the Allied occupation of Japan following World War II (around the time the word entered English), many of the individual companies that comprised them continued to be managed as they had been, and the term has survived.