You've probably heard of Kodansha, but that company isn't the only publisher in Japan. Here are short profiles of the seven Japanese companies on our top fifty list. We thought Japan might be a fun place to start, but we'll be running profiles of the other countries on the list in the weeks to come.
Name: Bungeishunjū Ltd. (Kabushiki-gaisha Bungeishunjū)
Ranking: 43
Source: Japan Company Yearbook, internet resources
Owner: n.a.
Group revenues: 29,659 m Yen (2008: 29,834 mY, 2007 : 31.271 m Yen)
HQ: Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan
Key personell: Takahiro Hirao, President
Number of employees: 360


Bungeishunjū Ltd. established in 1923 by the writer Kan Kikuchi, is a Japanese publishing company known for its leading monthly magazine Bungeishunjū. It also grants the annual Akutagawa Prize, established in 1935, one of the most prestigious literary awards in Japan, as well as the annual Naoki Prize for popular novelists. They also grant the annual Bungeishunjū Manga Award for achievement in Manga literature.

The publishing company Bungeishunjū is well established by its tradition of discovering new literary talent. It also keeps a high profile in freedom of speech and in anti-piracy issues.

Name: GakkenHoldings Co Ltd (Kabushiki-gaisha Gakushū Kenkyū Sha)
Ranking: 24
Source: Japan Company Yearbook, media reports
Owner: Listed at the Tokyo Stock Exchange
Group revenues:
Publisher Revenues: 77887 m Yen (2008: 67,601 m Yen)
HQ: Tokyo, Japan
Key personnel: Yoichiro Endo - President, Representative Director, Fumio Togashi, Senior Managing Director.
Number of employees: 1453
Financial year ending in March.

Gakken was founded in 1946 by Hideto Furuoka as an educational book and magazine publisher and producer of educational toys. In late 2009, Gakken Co. Ltd. was turned into a holding company named GakkenHoldings Co. Ltd.

"Our business environment is currently undergoing dramatic and far-reaching shifts. These include social changes such as an aging society and widening income gap, innovations in information distribution and communications technology, and the globalization of world economies and markets. Faced with these challenges, our group has established a holding company with the aim of ensuring stable and lasting growth." (Yoichiro Endo)

Gakken caters to the Japanese school market, notably the preparatory and children's markets as well as the general culture and daily living markets.

Recently Gakken formed several alliances, notably with the preparatory school management companies Meiko Network Japan Co., Ltd. , Waseda School Co., Ltd., and Sozogakuen Co., Ltd., as well as, in 2008, a capital and business alliance with Kosaido Co., Ltd.

Gakken Co Ltd. The Group's principal activities are to publish educational books and magazines and to operate preparatory schools. Its Direct Sales segment sells educational materials, picture story books and others for nursery school and kindergarten children, magazines for child-care workers, kindergarten supplies, textbooks for schools and public offices, video software, office automation (OA) equipment, nursing care goods and others. The Commercial segment sells magazines, books and others through subscription agents. The Cross Media division provides mainly books and magazines contents through mobile devices and Websites.

Earlier developments.

Income (million Yen) Sales Operating profit
2002 109,198 1,133
2003 103,764 3,563
2004 99,540 2,842
2005 93,339 1,948
2006 84,211 1,233
Source: Japan Company Handbook / Japanese Chamber of Commerce

"Gakken Co. Ltd. reported earnings results for the year to March 31, 2008. For the year, the company reported net loss of JPY 5.7 billion against net profit from JPY 763 million for the same period a year ago. Revenue was up 0.4% to JPY 78.5 billion. Operating loss worsened from JPY 200 million to JPY 2.1 billion and ordinary loss worsened from JPY 650 million to JPY 2.7 billion. (Business Week)

Name: Kadokawa Shoten Publishing Co., Ltd. (Kabushiki-gaisha Kadokawa Shoten)
Ranking: 31
Source: Japan Company Yearbook;
Owner: Kadokawa Group Holdings, Inc.
Group revenues: 149,883 m Yen (2007)
Publisher Revenues: 56400 (2008: 50777 mYen, 2007: 70,942 m Yen)
HQ: Tokyo, Japan
Key personell: Sekiya Kouiti, president, Tanaka Hirokazu, executive director.
Number of employees: n.a.

Japanese book and magazine publishers have reacted with anticipation and nervousness at the introduction of the iPad platform by Apple in spring 2010 – while other reading devices such as Amazon's Kindle or the Sony e-Reader have been taken from the Japanese Market previously due to competition from phones as reading devices. Kadokawa's spokesman Fumiyuki Kakizawa said in an interview with Business Week: "We'd be interested in joining the iPad platform but not at the expense of ruining pricing of our products."

Kadokawa Shoten Publishing Co., Ltd. is a well-known Japanese publisher, based in Tokyo. Kadokawa has published many manga titles as well as magazines, such as Newtype. In recent years, it has expanded into the multimedia sector (namely video games) and now owns the former Daiei Motion Picture Company. The company was founded on April 2, 1954 and is located in Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan.

With regard to hardback books, "Puzzle Palace (Digital Fortress)" (by Dan Brown, Kadokawa Shoten) became a hit linked with the movie "The Da Vinci Code". Other hits were, "Last Inning" (by Atsuko Asano, Kadokawa Shoten", "Yoru-wa mijikashi Arukeyo Otome" (by Tomihiko Morimi, Kadokawa Shoten) that won 2nd prize in the "2007 Bookstore Awards" and "Toshokan Senso (Library War)" (by Hiroshi Arikawa, Media Works)

Kadokawa Group
Kadokawa Group Holdings serves to bring together fifty-six affiliated Japanese companies related to Kadokawa Shoten under what is known as the Kadokawa Group. These companies are of three types: publishing, film and visuals, and cross media. The publishers primarily deal with books, bunkobon paperbacks, manga, and visual media magazines; the film and visual companies deal with Japanese feature films and DVD sales of international films and anime; the cross media companies deal with digital content, urban information and television program information magazines, along with information transmission combining paper media, the Internet, and mobile phones.

Kadokawa Group Holdings Inc. reported earnings results for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2008. For the period, the company net profit decreased from ¥3.9 billion to a loss of ¥2.6 billion. Revenue was up 0.6% to ¥150.8 billion. (Business Week)

The Global Ranking accounts only the revenues from Kadokawa's publishing activities (KADOKAWA GROUP PUBLISHING CO., LTD), not those from magazine publishing, cross media or film. Lacking a detailed Annual Report, and being aware of recent restructuring measures, it is difficult to compare revenue figures between 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Name: Kabushiki-gaisha Kōdansha (Kodansha Limited)
Ranking: 17
Source: Company website, Japan Company Yearbook and trade media reports
Owner: Noma Family
Group revenues: n.a.
Publisher Revenues: 2008: 135,058 m Yen (2007: 144,300 m Yen). Profits: 2008 loss 7.7686 m Yen (2007: profit 1.058 m Yen); 2009 data not yet available.
HQ: Tokyo, Japan
Key personell: Sawako Noma, Chair person, Koji Hirota, president, Yoshihiko Nakazawa, Director, Publications Department, Yoshio Irie, Kodansha USA Publishing.
Number of employees: 1,142

In 2009, Kodansha decided to open an office in the US to build a direct access to the American manga market. The first titles published included Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo and the metaphysical sci-fi police thriller Ghost in the Shell by Shirow Masamune. Kodansha Comics manga trade paperbacks will be distributed by Random House, with whom Kodansha has had a broad alliance since 2003. (Yoshio Irie to Publishers Weekly)

Kodansha publishes manga magazines Nakayoshi, Afternoon, Weekly Shonen Magazine, as well as more literary magazines such as Gunzō, Shūkan Gendai, and the Japanese dictionary Nihongo Daijiten. Kodansha was started by Seiji Noma in 1909, as a spin-off of the Dai-Nippon Yūbenkai (Greater Japan Oratorical Society). Its first publication was the literary magazine Yūben. The name Kodansha (taken from "Kōdan Club", a now defunct magazine published by the company) was first used in 1911 when the publisher formally merged with the Dai-Nippon Yūbenkai. The company's current legal name has been in use since 1958. Its motto is "Omoshirokute tame ni naru" (To be interesting and beneficial).

The company also owns the Otowa Group, which manages subsidiary companies such as King Records and Kobunsha, and publishes Nikkan Gendai, a daily tabloid. It also has close ties with The Walt Disney Company, and is an official sponsor of Tokyo Disneyland.

Kodansha for long was considered the largest publisher in Japan, and at one point yearly revenues were over ¥200 billion. However due to the recent Japanese recession and accompanying downturn in the publishing industry, revenues have been dropping, and the company is now rivalled by Shogakukan. Kodansha also sponsors the prestigious Kodansha Manga Award, which has run in its current form since 1977 (since 1960 under other names).

Relationship with other companies
The company is a stockholder in various broadcasters across Japan, and is believed to hold around 20% of the TBS Group's stock. It also holds stock in Nippon Cultural Broadcasting, along with Kobunsha. In the recent Nippon Broadcasting System takeover war between Livedoor and Fuji TV, Kodansha supported Fuji TV by selling their stock to them.

Name: Shinchosha Publishing Co Ltd
Ranking: 44
Source: Trade media, company website
Ownership: Privately owned company.
Company revenues: 27,800 m Yen (2008: 28,800 m Yen, 2007: 31.300 m Yen)
HQ: Tokyo, Japan
Key personnel: Takanobu Sato President
Employees: 393

Founded in 1896, Shinchosha Publishing Company publishes general literature, fiction, non-fiction, fine arts, philosophy and dictionaries as well as Mangas. It also sponsors four art prizes, collectively known as the 'Four Shincho Prizes' (Shincho Yonsho).

In March 2007, the publisher launched Com2, Japan's first monthly digital subscription magazine that will be distributed through mobile phones. The monthly subscription fee is 350 yen. According to Shinchosha, English and Chinese versions of the magazine were planned for the future. The magazine can be subscribed to online via eBookJapan

Name: Shogakukan Inc.
Ranking: 16
Source: Company website and Japan company handbook
Owner: n.a.
Group revenues:
Publisher Revenues: 127,542 mY (2008: 141,344 mY, 2007: 146,952 m Yen)
HQ: Tokyo, Japan; Main Office: Shogakukan Inc. 2-3-1, Hitotsubashi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 101-8001, Japan
Key personell: President: Masahiro Oga
Number of employees: 838.

Established: August 8,1922, foundet by Takeo Oga , the grandfather of today's president Masahiro Oga . Shogakukan was founded primarily as an educational publishing company which published educational magazines for elementary school students as well as instructional magazines for teachers. The variety of publications then gradually expanded to pre-school children's magazines, general magazines and book publications such as illustrated reference books, dictionaries and encyclopedias.

Shogakukan is part of the Hitotsubashi Group, a Japanese "Keiretsu", a set of more or less interconnected companies with shared interlocking business relationships and shareholdings. The Hitotsubashi Group also includes several other publishing companies, notably Shueisha. The two companies have their headquarters next to each other.

Over the years Shogakukan has also established itself as one of Japan's leading publishers of Japanese manga. With its comics becoming increasingly popular in the 1980s and 1990s, Shogakukan further expanded its horizons in areas outside of manga by publishing a number of successful fashion and lifestyle magazines such as Oggi and Be-Pal. Today, Shogakukan is one of Japan's major publishers, publishing eighteen comic magazines and about one hundred million comic books a year while continuing to put out an impressive array of non-manga publications as well.

Shogakukan publishes numerous children's books but also dictionaries and encyclopaedias as well as books dealing with history, folklore, geography, literature, art, education, medicine, photography and gardening.

Currently, Shogakukan publishes 64 magazines, on average 760 new book titles per year, and sells ca. 22 million copies of a back list of 9200 titles. In its manga series, it publishes ca. 13,900 items, selling ca. 117 million copies per year. It also has ca. 850 magazine books and 4,000 DVDs and videos in its lists.

Since 2002, Shogakukan, together with Shueisha, owns Viz Media. Viz Communications Inc. was founded in 1987 in San Francisco and has been successful in introducing Japanese comics to the North American market. In March of 2005 Viz Communications Inc. merged with Shopro's American subsidiary, Shopro Productions and Entertainment, Inc., thereby making the newly formed company, Viz Media, a groundbreaking new entertainment company specializing in the production and licensing of animated content for TV and theatrical distribution, publishing, home video distribution and consumer products.

Shanghai Viz Communication Inc. was founded in 1995, and has been active in arranging for joint publications with Shogakukan and Chinese publishing companies.

For its dictionaries, the group has cooperation projects with Random House, F.A. Brockhaus, Robert and Librairie Larousse among others.

Name: Kabushiki Kaisha Shūeisha ("Shueisha Publishing Co., Ltd.")
Ranking: 15
Source: Company Yearbook; media reports
Group revenues: n.a.
Publisher Revenues: 133,298 m yen (2008: 137,611 mY, 2007: 138,978 m Yen)
HQ: Tokyo, Japan
Key personell: Hideki Yamashita, president.
Number of employees: n.a.


Shueisha is a major publisher in Japan, headquartered in Tokyo and the largest manga publisher in the world with an alleged market share in Japan of 30%.

The company was founded in 1925 as the entertainment-related publishing division of Japanese publisher Shogakukan. The following year Shueisha became a separate, independent company.

Shueisha is part of the Hitotsubashi Group, a Japanese "Keiretsu", a set of more or less interconnected companies with shared interlocking business relationships and shareholdings. The Hitotsubashi Group also includes several other publishing companies, notably Shogakukan. The two companies have their headquarters next to each other.

Shueisha's Jump Comics division is a large publisher of manga. Shueisha later founded Hakusensha, which has gone on to become another of Japan's most successful publishers. Homesha is one of the many imprints operated by Shueisha.

Many titles published in its Weekly Shonen Jump have enjoyed circulation of over 1 million copies in their graphic novel form. DRAGON BALL has sold over 150 million copies overall. ONE PIECE has sold over 140 million overall, according to company information from VIZ Media..

Shueisha, along with Shogakukan, owns Viz Media, one of the major publishers of manga in the United States.

Headquartered in San Francisco, CA, VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), is one of the most comprehensive and innovative companies in the field of manga (graphic novel) publishing, animation and entertainment licensing of Japanese content." (Company statement VIZ Media)

Like Kodansha, Shueisha has close ties to the Walt Disney Company, since it has published books based on the Kingdom Hearts Game.