Japan Tobacco Inc.
Native name
Nihon Tabako Sangyō kabushiki gaisha
FormerlyJapan Tobacco and Salt Public Corporation
Japanese: 日本専売公社
Hepburn: Nippon Senbai Kōsha
Company type1985–Present: Public (kabushiki gaisha)
1949–1985: Statutory corporation
Founded1898 (as Imperial Japanese Tobacco Company)
1 June 1949 (as Japan Tobacco and Salt Public Corporation)
1 April 1985 (privatized)
FounderGovernment of Japan
Key people
Mitsuomi Koizumi
(President and CEO)
Hiroshi Kimura
ProductsSee below
RevenueIncrease ¥2.033 trillion (2012)
Increase ¥459.18 billion (2012)
Increase ¥328.55 billion (2012)
Total assetsDecrease ¥3.667 trillion (2012)
Total equityDecrease ¥1.714 trillion (2012)
Number of employees
48,529 (2011)
ParentGovernment of Japan (33.35% by law)
SubsidiariesJapan Tobacco International
PT Karya Dibya Mahardhika (Indonesia)
Mighty Corporation (Philippines)
Donskoy Tabak Companies (Russian)
Gallaher Group

The Japan Tobacco Inc. (日本たばこ産業株式会社, Nihon Tabako Sangyō kabushiki gaisha) (JT) is a Japanese diversified tobacco company. It was established in 1985 as a tokushu gaisha (特殊会社, lit. "special company") that inherited the right to monopolize and manufacture cigarettes from the Japan Tobacco and Salt Public Corporation and required the government to hold at least 50% of its shares. In addition to tobacco, JT diversified its businesses, establishing the pharmaceutical research institute in 1993 and making a full-scale entry into the food and beverage industry in 1998. In 2008, it acquired the food manufacturer Katokichi, now TableMark, as a wholly-owned subsidiary, integrating its food business.

It is part of the Nikkei 225 and TOPIX Large70 indices. In 2009 the company was listed at number 312 on the Fortune 500 list. The company is headquartered in Toranomon, Minato, Tokyo,[1] and Japan Tobacco International's headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland.[2] As of 2012 the chairman is Hiroshi Kimura and the CEO is Mitsuomi Koizumi.[3]


Japan Tobacco is the successor entity to a nationalized tobacco monopoly first established by the Government of Japan in 1898 to secure tax revenue collections from tobacco leaf sales. In 1904, the government's leaf monopoly was extended completely to take over all tobacco business operations in the nation, including all manufactured tobacco products such as cigarettes. The ostensible reason for the expansion of control was to help fund the 1904–1905 Russo-Japanese War, but because all foreign tobacco interests in Japan at the time were forcibly evicted under the monopolization scheme, this also protected the domestic tobacco business for the following eighty years.[4]

Final logo of the Japan Tobacco and Salt Public Corporation until its privatization

The business operated within the Japanese government as an arm of the nation's Japanese Ministry of Finance until 1949 when the Japan Tobacco and Salt Public Corporation (日本専売公社, Nippon Senbai Kōsha, lit. "Japan Monopoly Public Corporation") was established to enforce restrictive labor relations policies under the U.S. and allied forces' Occupation of Japan.[5] The Japan Tobacco and Salt Public Corporation remained a complete state monopoly under direct Japanese Ministry of Finance authority until 1985, when Japan Tobacco, Inc. was formed as a publicly traded stock company. Periodic incremental sales of share to the public began in October 1994. Japan Tobacco became two-thirds owned by the Japanese Ministry of Finance in June 2003,[6] and the ministry continued to own 50% until March 2013. It was announced in May 2012 that the government would sell one-sixth of the company's outstanding shares to raise ¥500 billion to finance reconstruction from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.[7] In 2013 the Japanese government disclosed the details of its plans to reduce its equity interest in Japan Tobacco by $10 billion, devoting the proceeds to reconstruction in northeastern Japan.[8] The ministry of finance sold the stock in March 2013,[9] selling about 333 million of the 1 billion shares it owned at that time. The government remains required by law to own at least one-third of JT's stock.[10]

JT today

Japan Tobacco has 66.4% of the cigarette market in Japan.[11][12] Although tobacco consumption is declining, the Japanese remain heavy smokers, consuming an average of 1,800 cigarettes per capita in 2013, compared to about 1,000 per capita in the United States.[8]

In April 2012 it was announced that Mitsuomi Koizumi would become president, and president Hiroshi Kimura would become chairman of JT. and Chairman Yoji Wakui would retire. Wakui had previously been a bureaucrat at the ministry of finance. Koizumi assuming the presidency meant that for the first time since the 1985 privatization neither president nor chairman was from the Ministry of Finance.[13] Koizumi, who had been Executive Deputy President, became president in June 2012.[14]

On 30 October 2013 JT announced that it would close four Japanese factories and cut 1,600 jobs in Japan through voluntary retirements. This was planned to be completed by March 2016. JT also planned to consolidate 25 branch offices into 15 regional headquarters, and close leaf-processing and vending machine operations.[15]

Japan Tobacco also operates in foods, pharmaceuticals, agribusiness, engineering, and real estate. It left the beverage industry in September 2015.[16][17] As part of the company's pharma activities, it divested a compound collection of potassium channel inhibitors to Metrion Biosciences in 2018.[18]

Japan Tobacco International

JT International (JTI), acquired in 1999 from R.J. Reynolds, is an operating division of Japan Tobacco Inc., and produces, markets and sells the group's cigarette brands internationally. It sells Camel, Salem, and Winston brands outside the USA.

Japan Tobacco completed the largest ever foreign takeover in Japanese history through acquisition of Gallaher Group plc in April 2007.[19] Japan Tobacco runs the Tobacco and Salt Museum in Sumida-ku, Tokyo.[20]

In 2006/2007 Japan Tobacco planned to start Serbia production, and also planned to invest another $100 million. JT paid "$35 million euros" [sic] for 98.5 percent of Senta Tobacco Industry in May 2006, with a further $10 million invested since then. The plant has a production capacity of some five billion cigarettes a year.[21]

On 12 June 2014 JT concluded an agreement to acquire all outstanding shares of British e-cigarettes producer Zandera Ltd, best known for its E-Lites brand.[22] On 30 April 2015 JT announced it had agreed to buy Florida-based e-cigarette maker Logic Technology Development LLC.[23]

In September 2015 it was announced that JT would buy the rights for Natural American Spirit outside the US for $5 billion.[24][25][26]

In August 2017, the company announced it would acquire the Indonesian Kretek producers Karyadibya Mahardhika and Surya Mustika Nusantara from Gudang Garam for $677 million.[27] PT Karya Dibya Mahardhika has a main brand in Indonesia, Apache, Extreme Mild, & Minna International. After that, the Philippine's Mighty Corporation for $936 million.[28][29]

In 2018, JT acquired Donskoy Tabak corporation, Russia's fourth largest cigarette manufacturer for $1.6 billion.[30]


There have been a number of Japanese court cases related to smoking, either directly or indirectly related to JT.

1980–1987 JNR Shinkansen lawsuit

A group of nonsmokers sued at the Tokyo District Court demanding that Japanese National Railways shinkansen (bullet trains) provide more non-smoking cars. The case was filed in 1980 and while the court recognized tobacco's health risks[31] the 27 March 1987 ruling rejected the lawsuit on the basis that the plaintiffs had failed to prove their harm to be "beyond the limits of toleration".[32]

1998–2005 Tokyo lawsuit

In 1998 seven plaintiffs represented by lawyer Yoshio Isayama sued JT at the Tokyo District Court for ¥70 million compensation (¥10 million per plaintiff) for health damage caused by smoking JT cigarettes. While similar cases had been filed in Nagoya, this was the first such case in Tokyo. In addition to financial compensation, the plaintiffs also demanded:

The plaintiffs' case was dismissed by the district court on 21 October 2003. The court agreed with the 1980s ruling that tobacco had health risks, but said that there was no causal link between the smoking habits and the specific diseases of plaintiffs. In addition, Judge Kikuo Asaka denied that nicotine was highly addictive. Isayama said that the group would appeal the decision to the Tokyo High Court.[34]

On 22 June 2005 the Tokyo High Court dismissed the case; by that time brought by only six plaintiffs. Three of the plaintiffs had died during the course of the case. Judge Toshinobu Akiyama said he agreed with the District Court decision. Jun Araki, the son of one of the deceased plaintiffs, said: "This ruling placed priority on the annual 2.3 trillion yen in [tobacco] tax revenue over the precious lives and health of the Japanese people". He also said the plaintiffs would appeal to the Supreme Court.[35]

2005–2010 Yokohama lawsuit

In January 2005 plaintiffs Kenichi Morishita, Koreyoshi Takahashi, and Masanobu Mizuno filed a case in the Yokohama District Court against JT seeking ¥30 million in damages for smoking related illness. Morishita died of pneumonia while the case was being fought, and JT used the same argument as in the 1998–2005 Tokyo case, that smokers were free to quit any time and that cancer and other illnesses had multiple causes.[36]

On 20 January 2010 the court clearly ruled that there was a link between smoking and lung cancer and respiratory illnesses, and said that smoking may be addictive. However, the court rejected the demand for damages, and said that the plaintiffs had smoked of their own free will and that there was no proof that smoking had directly caused their sicknesses.[37]


JT flagship brands

Other brands

Smoking etiquette posters

JTI runs a series of posters designed to educate smokers about smoking etiquette. They can be seen widely around Japan, especially located near train stations. Poster gallery Archived 16 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine

Environmental record

In 2008, Japan Tobacco had health issues involving their company: Contaminated gyoza dumplings made by a Chinese company's factory in China, which sold its products to JT, poisoned ten people, including a five-year-old girl.[40] Thousands of other Japanese people were going to the hospital because of stomach issues as well. A number of dumplings were found containing dichlorvos and methamidophos from pesticide.[41] The health minister of Japan said the contamination at the Chinese factory was possibly intentional, and the police are investigating for an attempted homicide.[41] The dumplings were from China, but Japan Tobacco has said it does not plan to cease its manufacturing in China. Frozen food sales went down by 60% for the business since this health scare.[42] Japan Tobacco's stock price fell 7.1% after they were forced to recall their products, and the company also lost a $500 million merger deal with Nissin Foods because of this incident.[43]

Anti-illicit trade compliance

Japan Tobacco Inc, through its international operating divisions JT International S.A. and JT International Holding BV, signed a Cooperation Agreement with the European Commission in 2007 to combat the illicit trade in cigarettes under Article 9 of which the company agreed to "pro-actively disclose" to the European Commission's Anti-Fraud Office (Office Europeen de Lutte Antifraude – OLAF) "...all material information coming into (its) possession after the Execution Date relating to potentially Illegal Product."[44] The Agreement defines "Illegal Product" as Contraband or Counterfeit Cigarettes. Both Japan Tobacco Inc and JT International S.A. claim to adhere to a "zero-tolerance approach" to illicit trade.[45][46]

JT International S.A. and several of its distributors, including Megapolis in Russia and IBCS Trading in Cyprus, however, have been implicated as recently as 2011 in widespread smuggling to include selling cigarettes to a buyer in Syria subject to EU, Swiss, and US Sanctions and diverting cigarettes from Russia into the European Union and smuggling Winston and other popular cigarette brands into Iran.[47][48][49] A JT International S.A. executive told the Wall Street Journal in August 2012 that the firm had continued to ship cigarettes to Syria until as recently as February 2012, almost a full year after the imposition of EU and US sanctions. The Journal cited Syrian dissident sources who claimed that the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad uses cigarettes as payment for the irregular military forces and militias, known as the shabeeha, who have had a central role in its violent crackdown.[50]

Company documents show that in 2010 the head of the JT International SA security office – who performed a similar function at the former Gallaher Group PLC – sought to destroy evidence linking up to 13 company officers to smugglers in the Balkans region; a parallel effort was then being run by company management to hack into the emails of company anti-smuggling investigators, competitors, and law enforcement.[48]

The firm also announced in 2011 that it had purchased the largest cigarette producer in Sudan and South Sudan as part of an effort to expand sales in the war-torn region, which has emerged as an entrepot for cigarette smuggling.[51][52]


See also


  1. ^ "Corporate Data (as of June 22 2012) Archived 2 February 2010 at the Wayback Machine." Japan Tobacco. Retrieved 27 September 2012.
  2. ^ Japan Tobacco International JTI Information for Journalists Archived 29 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 27 September 2012
  3. ^ Japan Tobacco Members of the Board, Auditors, and Executive Officers 22 June 2012 Archived 13 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 27 September 2012
  4. ^ Levin, Mark, Smoke Around the Rising Sun: An American Look at Tobacco Regulation in Japan. Stanford Law and Policy Review, Vol. 8, p. 99, 1997. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1691348
  5. ^ Id.
  6. ^ Levin, Mark, Tobacco Industrial Policy and Tobacco Control Policy in Japan (日本におけるたばこ産業政策とたばこ規制政策). Tobacco Free Japan: Recommendations for Tobacco Control Policy, pp. 298-313, November 2004; Asian-Pacific Law & Policy, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2005. Page 301, Table A.1: Privatization of Japan's Tobacco Monopoly, 1985 to present. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1691804
  7. ^ The Japan Times Ministry to sell chunk of JT shares 20 May 2012 Retrieved on 22 August 2012
  8. ^ a b Hiroko Tabuchi (25 February 2013). "Japan Plans to Sell $10 Billion Stake in Cigarette Firm" (Dealbook blog). The New York Times. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  9. ^ JT website Notice concerning decision on offer price 11 March 2013
  10. ^ Financial Times Japan to raise up to $10bn from tobacco share sale 25 February 2013
  11. ^ "JT holds approximately two-thirds of the domestic cigarette market share, which is built on its best-selling brands: Mild Seven, Cabin, Caster, Seven Stars, Peace, Camel, and Salem." Archived 18 December 2006 at the Wayback Machine Japan Tobacco website, 2006
  12. ^ Hoover's business report, 2006, on Japan Tobacco Inc. "Japan Tobacco has plenty to puff about. The company controls more than 70% of the cigarette market in a country where about half of the male population smokes."
  13. ^ The Japan Times Japan Tobacco names Koizumi as next president 24 April 2012 Archived 29 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 22 August 2012
  14. ^ Reuters Koizumi, Mitsuomi BRIEF BIOGRAPHY Retrieved on 22 August 2012
  15. ^ Reuters Japan Tobacco to shut plants, cut jobs as domestic demand falls 30 October 2013
  16. ^ Wall Street Journal website 4 February 2015 Last Call for Drinks at Japan Tobacco Retrieved 12 February 2015
  17. ^ Reuters website 4 February 2015 UPDATE 1-Japan Tobacco says to end beverage business due to lack of scale Retrieved 12 February 2015
  18. ^ "Deals this week: Onconova Therapeutics, Humorigin Biotechnology, Zosano Pharma". Drug Development Technology. Kable. 2 February 2018. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  19. ^ "Gallaher agrees £7.5bn Japan Tobacco takeover – Scotsman.com News". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. 15 December 2006.
  20. ^ Tobacco & Salt Museum Home Retrieved on 27 September 2012
  21. ^ "Japan Tobacco starts Serbia production, eyes more". Reuters. 24 April 2007.
  22. ^ Ng, Melody (12 June 2014). "Japan Tobacco acquires leading e-cigarette brand E-Lites". The Moodie Davitt Report. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  23. ^ "Japan Tobacco to buy U.S. e-cigarette maker Logic Technology". Reuters. 30 April 2015. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  24. ^ Bray, Chad Japan Tobacco Buys International Rights to Natural American Spirit 29 September 2015 NY Times Retrieved 1 October 2015
  25. ^ Japan Tobacco to acquire foreign sales rights to Natural American Spirit cigarettes 30 September 2015 Archived 2 October 2015 at the Wayback Machine Asahi Shimbun Retrieved 1 October 2015
  26. ^ Monami, Yui Japan Tobacco Lost $9 Billion After Betting on American Spirit 30 September 2015 Bloomberg Businessweek Retrieved 1 October 2015
  27. ^ "Japan Tobacco to Buy Indonesian 'Kretek' Cigarette Firms for $677m". Jakarta Globe. 4 August 2017. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  28. ^ "News & Views | Japan Tobacco International – a global tobacco company".
  29. ^ Editorial, Reuters (22 August 2017). "Japan Tobacco to buy Philippine cigarette maker Mighty for $936..." Reuters. Retrieved 17 March 2018. ((cite news)): |first= has generic name (help)
  30. ^ "JT Group Acquires Russia's Donskoy Tabak". JT Group. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  31. ^ Matsubara, Hiroshi Former smokers denied in health compensation claim 22 October 2003 Retrieved on 27 September 2012
  32. ^ Levin, Mark A [papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1691348 "Smoke Around the Rising Sun: An American Look at Tobacco Regulation in Japan" Stanford Law and Policy Review, Vol. 8, p. 99, 1997] Retrieved on 27 September 2012
  33. ^ The Japan Times Japan Tobacco is taken to court 15 May 1998 Retrieved on 27 September 2012
  34. ^ Matsubara, Hiroshi Former smokers denied in health compensation claim "The Japan Times" 22 October 2003 Retrieved on 27 September 2012
  35. ^ Ito, Masami Death, disease not linked to smoking: high court 23 June 2005 The Japan Times Retrieved on 27 September 2012
  36. ^ Kageyama, Yuri Japan's smoking habit runs into court challenge The Japan Times 7 August 2009 Retrieved on 27 September 2012
  37. ^ Suit fails but tobacco risks noted 27 January 2010 The Japan Times Retrieved 27 September 2012
  38. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 October 2015. Retrieved 8 October 2015.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  39. ^ a b "Japan Tobacco buying Bangladesh Akij's tobacco business for $1.5 billion". Reuters. 6 August 2018.
  40. ^ McCurry, Justin (31 January 2008). "Chinese dumplings poison dozens in Japan". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  41. ^ a b "Breaking News, World News & Multimedia". Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  42. ^ "Japan Tobacco to Stay in China Despite Dumpling Scare – Food Industry News". Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  43. ^ "After Bad Dumplings, Nissin Loses Appetite For Japan Tobacco Deal". Archived from the original on 30 April 2008.
  44. ^ "EC-JTI Cooperation Agreement 2007" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 October 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  45. ^ "JTI Zero Tolerance Policy". Archived from the original on 5 April 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  46. ^ "JT Anti-Contraband Policy". Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  47. ^ Doward, Jamie; Fulford, Lucy (29 January 2012). "Tobacco giant JTI quizzed over shipment to Syrian tycoon 'bankrolling Assad's terror'". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  48. ^ a b Project, Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting. "Big Trouble at Big Tobacco". OCCRP.
  49. ^ "Reuters Article on JTI Smuggling". 4 November 2011.
  50. ^ Solomon, Jay (21 August 2012). "WSJ Article EU Probes Cigarette Deal That May Have Aided Syria, 21 August 2012". Wall Street Journal.
  51. ^ "JTI Announces Purchase of Sudan's Hagger Cigarette". Archived from the original on 9 April 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  52. ^ "Research Report on Trade in East Africa "Blood" Cigarettes".