is a word meaning "money clique" or "conglomerate
" in the Japanese language
. It was used in the 19th century
and the first half of the 20th century
to refer to large family-controlled banking and industrial combines, especially the Big Four of Mitsubishi
, Sumitomo, and Yasuda.
The term gained popularity in the United States in the 1980s to refer to any
large corporation, in large part from its usage in a few cyberpunk stories, but it is not used in Japan for anything other than historical discussions.
Since World War II, it has been replaced by keiretsu (系列), meaning "series" or "subsidiary."