Trader with a firm grip on the copper coffers
Sunday 16 June 1996
Founded 400 years ago by samurai-cum-Buddhist priest Masamoto Sumitomo, it built its prosperity on copper, supplying the emperors from massive deposits on Shikoku, the smallest of Japan's four main islands.
After the Allies dismantled the zaibatsu after the Second World War, powerful traders like Yasuo Hamanaka helped Sumitomo retain its grip on the copper market, in which it is now the world's biggest player.
Mr Hamanaka, known as "Mr Five Per Cent" for the amount of the market he controlled, cut a figure far removed from the mythical samurai image. Aged 48, he was the archetypal "man in a grey flannel suit", outwardly another of Japan's corporate salarymen - a journeyman albeit an immensely powerful one.
The bespectacled executive joined Sumitomo in 1970, spending his entire career in copper trading. Apart from a brief spell as a clerk at the London Metals Exchange, he has not left Tokyo.
By the end of the 1980s, he was also known simply as "The Man" for his grip on the market.
- 1 Barbarians vs Samoa interrupted by sprinklers as fans criticise lack of Wi-Fi and poor seating at West Ham's Olympic Stadium
- 2 Caitlyn Jenner car crash: Driver who died in collision sued by surviving passengers for $18.5m
- 3 Watch the Supermoon live: How to see the brightest Moon of the year tonight
- 4 Hulk Hogan wants to be Donald Trump's running mate in the US Presidential election
Caitlyn Jenner car crash: Driver who died in collision sued by surviving passengers for $18.5m
Celebrity Big Brother 2015: Tila Tequila kicked off show after 'describing Hitler as a good man'
Watch the Supermoon live: How to see the brightest Moon of the year tonight
Hulk Hogan wants to be Donald Trump's running mate in the US Presidential election
Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Stock up on canned food for stock market crash, warns former Gordon Brown adviser
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
iJobs Money & Business
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...
£15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...