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The Mitsubishi Group of Companies, or Mitsubishi Companies is a Japanese conglomerate consisting of a range of autonomous businesses which share the Mitsubishi brand, trademark and legacy.The Mitsubishi group of companies form a loose entity, the Mitsubishi Keiretsu, which is often referenced in US and Japanese media and official reports; in general these companies all descend from the zaibatsu of the same name. A keiretsu is a common feature of Japanese corporate governance and refers to a collaborative group of integrated companies with extensive share crossholdings, personnel swaps and strategic co-operation. The top 25 companies are also members of the Mitsubishi Kin'yo-kai, or "Friday Club", and meet monthly. The Mitsubishi.Com Committee is charged with maintaining the overall integrity of the brand as well as maintaining the portal web site.
The first Mitsubishi company was a shipping firm established by Yataro Iwasaki (1834–1885) in 1870. In 1873, its name was changed to Mitsubishi Shokai. The name Mitsubishi has two parts: "mitsu" meaning "three" and "bishi" meaning "water caltrop" (also called "water chestnut"), and hence "rhombus", which is reflected in the company's logo. It is also translated as "three diamonds".
The company bought into coal mining in 1881 by acquiring the Takashima mine, using the produce to fuel their extensive steamship fleet. They also diversified into shipbuilding, banking, insurance, warehousing, and trade. Later diversification carried the organization into such sectors as paper, steel, glass, electrical equipment, aircraft, oil, and real estate. As Mitsubishi built a broadly based conglomerate, it played a central role in the modernization of Japanese industry.