The following metrics give some perspective on recent company performance. The overall value of Japanese exports increased by 12.9% from US$625 billion in 2015 to $705.8 billion during 2019. Year over year, Japan’s total exported goods depreciated by -4.4% from 2018 to 2019.
In the analysis below, we compare 10 of Japan’s top export companies based on asset values, sales and profitability as of December 2019. Also presented is the Japanese locale 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 December 2019 compared to 2018.
- Toyota Motor (car/truck makers): US$495.1 billion, up 4.7% from 2018
- Sony (consumer electronics): $208.3 billion, up 16.2%
- Honda Motor (car/truck makers): $188.5 billion, up 3.6%
- Nissan Motor (car/truck makers): $166.4 billion, down -4.2%
- Hitachi (electronics): $94.6 billion, down -0.4%
- JXTG Holdings (oil, gas): $81.6 billion, up 2.6%
- Panasonic (consumer electronics): $61.8 billion, up 4.4%
- Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (heavy equipment): $51 billion, down -1.2%
- Toshiba (IT, electronics): $33.1 billion, down -17%
- Nippon Steel (iron, steel): $8.5 billion, down -88.1%
Five of these Japanese exporters grew their assets from 2018 to 2019 led by Sony (up 16.2%), Toyota Motor (up 4.7% and Panasonic (up 4.4%). Asset growth was 30.8% for iron and steel producer Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal trailed by the 18.2% increase for consumer electronics titan Sony.
The severest declines belonged to Nippon Steel (down -88.1%) which divested its Sumitomo Metals business, electronics firm Toshiba (down -17%) and Nissan Motor (down -4.2%).
Sales is the life blood of most businesses, particularly for firms that compete in international trade. Four of Japan’s 10 biggest export companies increased their year-over-year sales as of December 2019.
- Toyota Motor: US$280.5 billion, up 5.8% from 2018
- Honda Motor: $142.4 billion, up 2.7%
- Nissan Motor: $96.3 billion, down -9.9%
- JXTG Holdings: $95.5 billion, up 2.8%
- Hitachi: $82.9 billion, down -1.9%
- Sony: $79.2 billion, up 2.7%
- Panasonic: $70.4 billion, down -2.2%
- Mitsubishi Heavy Industries: $37 billion, down -0.3%
- Toshiba: $32.2 billion, down -16.8%
- Nippon Steel: $23.2 billion, down -54.6%
Automotive colossus Toyota Motor posted the strongest increase in sales, up 5.8% from 2018 to 2019. In second place was oil and gas enterprise JXTG Holdings via its 2.8% sales improvement trailed by Honda Motor (up 2.7%) and Sony (also up 2.7%).
Leading the sales decliners were Nippon Steel (down -54.6%), Toshiba (down -16.8%) and Nissan Motor (down -9.9%).
Nine of 10 Japanese major exports-related companies were profitable as of December 2019.
- Toyota Motor: US$22.7 billion, up 0.9% from 2018
- Sony: $6 billion, up 36.4%
- Honda Motor: $4.3 billion, down -55.2%
- Panasonic: $2.6 billion, up 23.8%
- Hitachi: $1.8 billion, down -45.5%
- JXTG Holdings: $1.5 billion, down -54.5%
- Mitsubishi Heavy Industries: $1.5 billion, up 135.8%
- Nissan Motor: $383 million, down -94.8%
- Nippon Steel: $203.8 million, down -88.7%
- Toshiba: -$1.4 billion, down -61.1%
Posting double-digit profit increases from 2018 to 2019 were Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (up 135.8%), consumer electronics seller Sony (up 36.4%) and electronics competitor Panasonic (up 23.8%).
On a percentage basis, the severest declines in profit belonged to Nissan Motor (down -94.8%), Nippon Steel (down -88.7%), Honda Motor (down -55.2%), oil and gas competitor JXTG Holdings (down -54.6%) and Hitachi (down -45.5%).
Even worse, Toshiba endured -$1.4 in red ink for 2019 albeit that metric is an improvement from the -$3.6 billion loss in 2018.
Seven of the 10 largest Japanese export companies are based in Japan’s capital city Tokyo.
- Hitachi: Tokyo
- Honda Motor: Tokyo
- JX Holdings: Tokyo
- Mitsubishi Heavy Industries: Tokyo
- Nippon Steel: Tokyo
- Nissan Motor: Yokohama
- Panasonic: Kadoma
- Sony: Tokyo
- Toshiba: Tokyo
- Toyota Motor: Toyota, Aichi Prefecture
Toyota is a town located in Aichi Prefecture with its estimated population of 7.553 million residents at October 2019. Several of Toyota Motor’s manufacturing plants are found 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, JXTG 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, Japan’s Top 10 Imports and Top Japanese Trade Balances,
Forbes Global 2000 individual company profiles, Example of top Japanese company compiled for this study: Toyota Motor. Accessed on August 29, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on August 29, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on August 29, 2020
Wikipedia, Category: Companies of Japan. Accessed on August 29, 2020
Wikipedia, List of companies of Japan. Accessed on August 29, 2020
Wikipedia, Toyota, Aichi. Accessed on August 29, 2020