Japan’s Top 10 Major Export Companies

Toyota SUV

Toyota SUV

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

First, some context to give perspective on recent company performance. The overall value of Japanese exports declined by a hefty -24.1% from US$823.2 billion in 2011 to $625 billion during 2015.

In the analysis below, we compare Japan’s top 10 export companies based on asset values, sales and profitability as of May 2016. 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 2016 compared to 2015.

  1. Toyota Motor (car/truck makers): $406.7 billion, up 5.5%
  2. Honda Motor (car/truck makers): $154.5 billion, up 4.5%
  3. Nissan Motor (car/truck makers): $147.4 billion, up 7.4%
  4. Sony (consumer electronics): $142.2 billion, down -4.5%
  5. Hitachi (electronics): $106.6 billion, up 1.8%
  6. JX Holdings (oil, gas): $58.7 billion, down -23.1%
  7. Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal (iron, steel): $55.5 billion, down -17.8%
  8. Toshiba (IT, electronics): $49.6 billion, down -19.4%
  9. Panasonic (consumer electronics): $48.8 billion, down -6.4%
  10. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (heavy equipment): $46.9 billion, up 12%

Five of these Japanese exporters grew their asset values from 2015 to May 2016 led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries which expanded its asset base by 12%. Asset growth was 7.4% for auto manufacturer Nissan Motor, 5.5% for Toyota Motor and 4.5% for Honda Motor. Hitachi, a leading electronics firm, increased its assets by 1.5%.

The five other large Japanese businesses posted decreases in their asset size, ranging from a -4.5% decline for another world-class electronics maker Sony to a -23.1% reduction for energy industry player JX Holdings.


Sales is the life blood of all business, but particularly for firms that compete in international trade. Yet only two of Japan’s largest export companies increased their year-over-year sales as of May 2016, posting modest gains.

  1. Toyota Motor: $235.8 billion, down -7.7%
  2. Honda Motor: $118.1 billion, up 0.3%
  3. Nissan Motor: $101 billion, down -2.9%
  4. Hitachi: $84 billion, down -12.2%
  5. JX Holdings: $76.2 billion, down -38.8%
  6. Sony: $67.9 billion, down -13.2%
  7. Panasonic: $63.3 billion, down -18.1%
  8. Toshiba: $52.6 billion, down -19.2%
  9. Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal: $42.5 billion, down -22.5%
  10. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries: $34.2 billion, up 7.6%

Large machinery manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries posted the fastest increase in sales, up 7.6%. The other percentage sales increase was 0.3% for Honda Motor.

Sales declines ranged from -2.9% for Nissan Motor to -38.8% for JX Holdings, an oil and gas company.


Despite the slowing global economy, eight of Japan’s top 10 major export companies managed to remain profitable.

  1. Toyota Motor: $19.3 billion, up 2.5%
  2. Nissan Motor: $4.7 billion, up 21%
  3. Honda Motor: $4.4 billion, down -9.6%
  4. Hitachi: $2 billion, down -23.8%
  5. Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal: $1.8 billion, down -23%
  6. Panasonic: $1.7 billion, up 37.5%
  7. Sony: $1.1 billion, down -2.7%
  8. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries: $765.1 million, down -41.1%
  9. JX Holdings: -$2.1 billion, down -206%
  10. Toshiba: -$4.9 billion, down -911.7%

However, only three of Japan’s top 10 major export companies managed to boost their bottom-line profit in the latest May 2016 period. Electronics producer Panasonic increased its profits by 37.5% from 2015, the profitability gain for Nissan Motor was 21% while the black ink improved by 2.5% for Toyota.

Toshiba endured a -911.7% reversal, going from a $600 million profit in 2015 to a -$4.87 billion loss as of May 2016.


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

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

Toyota is a town located in Aichi Prefecture with an estimated population of 420,076. Several of Toyota Motor’s manufacturing plants are located in the town 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 Exports, Highest Value Japanese Export Products and Top Japanese Trade Balances,

Research Sources:
Forbes 2016 Global 2000 individual company profiles, Example of top Japanese company compiled for this study: Toyota Motor. Accessed on July 17, 2016

Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on July 17, 2016

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on July 17, 2016

Wikipedia, Category: Companies of Japan. Accessed on July 17, 2016

Wikipedia, List of companies of Japan. Accessed on July 17, 2016

Wikipedia, Toyota, Aichi. Accessed on July 17, 2016