Japan’s Top 10 Major Export Companies

Toyota SUV

Toyota SUV

Japan’s three biggest export companies are automobile manufacturers. Four mammoth Japanese electronics conglomerates also rank among the island country’s top 10 exporters.

The following metrics give some perspective on recent company performance. The overall value of Japanese exports declined by -19.2% from US$798.6 billion in 2012 to $644.9 billion during 2016.

In the analysis below, we compare Japan’s top 10 export companies based on asset values, sales and profitability as of May 2017. Also specified is the Japanese city where each business has its headquarters.

Japan’s Top 10 Major Export Companies


Below are Japan’s biggest export companies organized by asset value. Shown within parentheses is the primary industry in which each company operates. Also shown is the change in asset value as of May 2017 compared to May 2016.

  1. Toyota Motor (car/truck makers): $412.5 billion, up 1.4% from 2016
  2. Honda Motor (car/truck makers): $161.8 billion, up 4.7%
  3. Nissan Motor (car/truck makers): $157.3 billion, up 6.7%
  4. Sony (consumer electronics): $151.7 billion, up 6.7%
  5. Hitachi (electronics): $82.7 billion, down -22.4%
  6. JX Holdings (oil, gas): $58 billion, down -1.2%
  7. Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal (iron, steel): $54.6 billion, down -1.6%
  8. Toshiba (IT, electronics): $47.7 billion, down -3.8%
  9. Panasonic (consumer electronics): $52.7 billion, up 8%
  10. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (heavy equipment): $48.9 billion, up 4.3%

Six of these Japanese exporters grew their asset values from 2016 to May 2017 led by consumer electronics icon Panasonic which expanded its asset base by 8%. Asset growth was 6.7% for auto manufacturer Nissan Motors, 6.7% for another consumer electronics giant Sony, 4.3% for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and 1.4% for Toyota Motor.

The four other large Japanese businesses posted declines in their asset size, ranging from a -22.4% setback for world-class electronics maker Hitachi to a -1.2% reduction for energy industry player JX Holdings.


Sales is the life blood of all business, but particularly for firms that compete in international trade. Seven of Japan’s 10 biggest export companies increased their year-over-year sales as of May 2017.

  1. Toyota Motor: $249.9 billion, up 6% from 2016
  2. Honda Motor: $127.9 billion, up 8.3%
  3. Nissan Motor: $105.9 billion, up 4.9%
  4. Hitachi: $85.8 billion, up 2.1%
  5. JX Holdings: $72 billion, down -5.5%
  6. Sony: $69.2 billion, up 1.9%
  7. Panasonic: $66.6 billion, up 5.2%
  8. Toshiba: $47.2 billion, down -10.2%
  9. Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal: $41.6 billion, down -2.1%
  10. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries: $36 billion, up 5.2%

Honda Motors posted the strongest increase in sales, up 8.3% from 2016 to May 2017. In second place was another automotive competitor Toyota Motor via its 6% improvement.

The three sales decliners were Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal (down -2.1%), JX Holdings (down -5.5%) and Toshiba (down -10.2%).


Half of Japan’s top 10 major export companies managed to remain profitable from 2016 to May 2017.

  1. Toyota Motor: $17.1 billion, down -11.4% from 2016
  2. Nissan Motor: $4.5 billion, up 2.3%
  3. Honda Motor: $3.9 billion, down -17%
  4. Panasonic: $1.9 billion, up 11.8%
  5. Hitachi: $1.8 billion, down -10%
  6. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries: -$73 million loss, reversing a $765.1 million profit
  7. Sony: -$393 million loss, reversing a $1.1 billion profit
  8. Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal: -$477 million loss, reversing an $18 billion profit
  9. JX Holdings: -$649.6 million loss, down from a -$2.1 billion loss
  10. Toshiba: -$3.8 billion, down from a -$4.9 billion loss

However, only two of Japan’s top 10 major export companies managed to boost their bottom-line profit in the latest May 2017 period. Panasonic increased its profits by 11.8% compared to 2016 while the black ink improvement was 2.3% for Nissan Motor.

Three top Japanese businesses went from healthy profits in 2016 to significant losses as of May 2017: Sony, Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.


Seven of the 10 largest Japanese export companies are based in Japan’s capital city Tokyo.

  1. Hitachi: Tokyo
  2. Honda Motor: Tokyo
  3. JX Holdings: Tokyo
  4. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries: Tokyo
  5. Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal: Tokyo
  6. Nissan Motor: Yokohama
  7. Panasonic: Kadoma
  8. Sony: Tokyo
  9. Toshiba: Tokyo
  10. Toyota Motor: Toyota, Aichi Prefecture

Toyota is a town located in Aichi Prefecture with its estimated population of7.5 million residents at May 2016. Several of Toyota Motor’s manufacturing plants are located in the prefecture where Toyota has a long-standing relationship. This accounts for the fact that the town shares the corporation’s name.


Note some of the above company offerings may include products other than the principal category shown within parenthesis under the Assets tab.

For example, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries produces not only ships, industrial machinery and aircraft but also engineers land, sea and air transportation systems as well as offering real estate sales, printing and information services.

Similarly, JX Holdings creates refined petroleum, natural gas, basic chemical products, lubricants, coal, electricity as well as offering metal recycling and industrial waste treatment services.

See also Japan’s Top 10 Imports, Japan’s Top Trading Partners, Top Japanese Trade Balances and Japan’s Top 10 Exports

Research Sources:
Forbes 2016 Global 2000 individual company profiles, Example of top Japanese company compiled for this study: Toyota Motor. Accessed on January 22, 2018

Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on January 22, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on January 22, 2018

Wikipedia, Category: Companies of Japan. Accessed on January 22, 2018

Wikipedia, List of companies of Japan. Accessed on January 22, 2018

Wikipedia, Toyota, Aichi. Accessed on January 22, 2018