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Sony Music Entertainment Japan
Sony Music Entertainment Japan
Type Subsidiary
Founded 1968
Headquarters Rokubancho, Chiyoda, Tokyo. Japan
Key people Naoki Kitagawa, CEO and Representative to the RIAJ Kazutomo Enomoto, Director
Employees 1,400
Parent Sony
Website sonymusic.co.jp

Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. (株式会社ソニー・ミュージックエンタテインメント Kabushiki gaisha Sonī Myūjikku Entateinmento?, often abbreviated as SMEJ and also known as Sony Music Japan for short) is Sony's music arm in Japan.

SMEJ held a contest searching for an original PlayStation game design, to which Takuma Endo sent his Tenchu game design and won. SMEJ then funded his fledgling development studio and co-published the final game with Activision.[1]

Current Status and Subsidiaries

SMEJ is directly owned by Sony Corporation and independent from the United States-based Sony Music Entertainment due to its strength in the Japanese music industry.[2] Its subsidiaries including the anime production enterprise, Aniplex, which was established in January 1997 as a joint-venture between Sony Music Entertainment Japan and Sony Pictures Entertainment, but which in 2001 became a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment Japan. It was prominent in the early to mid 90's producing and licensing music for Anime such as Roujin Z from acclaimed Manga artist Katsuhiro Otomo and Capcom's Street Fighter anime series.

Until March 2007, Sony Music Japan also had its own North American sublabel, Tofu Records. Releases of Sony Music Japan now appear on Columbia Records or Epic Records in North America.

Releases on Columbia Records in other countries appear on Sony Records in Japan because a competitor, Columbia Music Entertainment, owns the rights to the trademark there.

With Sony Corporation of America's buyout of Bertelsmann's stake in Sony BMG, Sony Music Entertainment Japan stepped in to acquire outstanding shares of BMG Music Japan from Sony BMG, making it a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Music Japan.[3]


Sony Music Entertainment Japan was officially incorporated in March 1968[4] as a Tokyo-based 50/50 joint venture between Sony Corporation and U.S. conglomerate CBS to distribute the latter's music releases in Japan. The company was incorporated as CBS/Sony Records and with Sony co-founder Akio Morita as president.[5][6][7]

Norio Ohga was part of the management team from the formation of the company and served as president and representative director since April 1970.[8][9] In 1972, when CBS/Sony was generating robust profits, Ohga was named chairman and at the same time gained further responsibility and influence within Sony. He would continue to work for the music company one morning a week.[10] In 1980 Toshio Ozawa succeeded Ohga as president.[11]

In 1983 the company was renamed CBS/Sony Group.[4]

Sony Acquires CBS Records in 1988

In January 1988, after more than a year of negotiations, Sony acquired CBS Records and the 50% of CBS/Sony Group that it did not already own.[12]

In March 1988, four wholly owned subsidiaries were folded into CBS/Sony Group: CBS/Sony Inc., Epic/Sony Records Inc., CBS/Sony Records Inc. and Sony Video Software International.[13][4]

The company was renamed Sony Music Entertainment (Japan), Inc.

Shugo Matsuo was named new president in January 1992, replacing Toshio Ozawa, who was appointed to the post of chairman.[14]

Overall sales for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1991 were 83.8 billion yen with a pretax profit of 9.2 billion yen.[14]

In June 1996, Ryokichi Kunugi became new president. Shugo Matsuo was named chairman.[15]

Shigeo Maruyama was appointed to the new post of CEO on October 1, 1997 and replaced Kunugi as president in February 1998.[16]

As of 2007, Naoki Kitagawa is the current CEO of the group.

Increased competition

The company's leading role on the Japanese market was increasingly challenged by labels such as Avex (where SMEJ formerly owned 5 percent of shares).[16] Net sales for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1997 were down 10% to 103 Billion Yen, while net income fell 41% to 7.7 billion yen.[17] The market share at that time was less than 18%.[17] In August 1997, |Dreams Come True, till then Sony Music Entertainment Japan's best-selling act, signed a worldwide multi-album deal with competing U.S. label Virgin Records America.[18]

Since then it was said that SMEJ ceded to Avex's challenge.[19]

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  1. ACQUIRE Corp. - Info Retrieved August 13, 2011
  2. "Sony Japan not part of BMG merger plan-Bertelsmann", Forbes.com, November 15, 2003. Retrieved on July 21, 2006. 
  3. "Acquisition of Shares in BMG Japan Inc. by Sony Music Entertainment Japan Inc. (Japanese)", Sony Corporation, October 2, 2008. Retrieved on December 31, 2009. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Sony Music Entertainment Japan - History Retrieved September 15, 2010
  5. Kimio Kase, Francisco J. Sáez-Martínez, Hernán Riquelme: Transformational CEOs: Leadership and Management Success in Japan. Edward Elgar Publishing, 2005, ISBN 1-84542046-2. Page 16.
  6. Sony and the Modern Age. Sony Music UK, via archive.org Retrieved on August 6, 2006.
  7. CBS/Sony Records is Established in First Round of Capital Deregulation. Sony History. Retrieved September 15, 2010.
  8. Press release: Chairman of the Board Norio Ohga Retires as Director of Sony Corporation. Sony Corporation, January 28, 2003. Retrieved September 15, 2010
  9. John Nathan: Sony. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2001, ISBN 0-61812694-5. Pages 146-147.
  10. John Nathan: Sony. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2001, ISBN 0-61812694-5. Page 147.
  11. The Joy of Creating Something New. Sony History. Accessed September 17, 2010.
  12. The Acquisition of CBS Records and Columbia Pictures. Sony History. Accessed September 27, 2010.
  13. CBS/Sony to Take Over 4 Subsidiaries. Jiji Press Ticker Service, February 12, 1988
  14. 14.0 14.1 Steve McClure: Sony Music Names Matsuo to Head Label in Japan In: Billboard, February 8, 1992. Page 4.
  15. Attorneys Launch Entertainment-Focused Firm In: Los Angeles Times, May 3, 1996. Accessed September 17, 2010.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Steve McClure: CEO Maruyama Steps Up as New SMEJ President. In Billboard, February 28, 1998.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Steve McClure: SMEJ's Other Announcements. In: Billboard, February 28, 1998.
  18. Virgin's Dreams Come True. In: Billboard, August 20, 1997.
  19. http://www.cnngo.com/tokyo/none/kana-nishino-gyarus-favorite-new-singer-444774

External links