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The Sogo Shosha There are thousands of trading companies in Japan today but only a few hundred are engaged in foreign trade Amongst them are the sogo shosha which are Japanese general trading companies In 1993 there are only 16 sogo shosha in Japan Shao and Herbig 1993 p37 These sogo shosha whether compares with Japanese or non-Japanese trading companies are unique in terms of the scale of transactions the almost infinite number of products they handle the global spread of their business the multiple types of their trade and equally important in terms of the services they provide and the enormous resources they command for conducting and expanding their business Young 1979 p19 A few of the services offered by the sogo shosha are such as financial services information services risk reduction services organizational and coordination services human resources global commercial network to name a few The sogo shosha are an important economic institution the Japanese have devised and refined to serve their national and corporate needs Young 1979 p19 The link between the Keiretsu and their associate Shosha Most Japanese firms are linked through long-standing networks of reciprocal ties The networks that are the most formal are called keiretsu The sogo shosha then becomes the eyes and ears for the keiretsu identifying new products and technologies for Japan and thus taking up the role as a global purchaser and marketer for keiretsu members Lairson p1 They provide four important financial services the keiretsu namely supplying up-to-date information to the keiretsu about global markets supply information to potential foreign exporters auxiliary services and capital efficiency services Shao and Herbig 1993 p41 As the sogo shosha has such a vast network globally they serve as an information system to their keiretsu and bank Herbig 1993 p2 Various types of information ranging from size of potential market to the latest equipment available in the market can be obtained from the sogo shosha This is especially
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