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Tohmatsu, Awoki & Co. and the story of Deloitte in Japan

Tohmatsu, Awoki & Co. formed in 1968 in response to the Japanese government’s demand for financial discipline in the midst of major economic expansion. The firm quickly grew to international prominence thanks in no small part to the efforts of Iwao Tomita, who helped attract some of the best Japanese auditors in the world and forged connections that eventually led to the equal merger with Deloitte, Haskins & Sells and Touche Ross in 1989.

In 1943, a young man named Iwao Tomita graduated from Japan’s Naval Paymasters’ Academy. Tomita, the youngest student ever accepted into the academy, studied under Admiral Nobuzo Tohmatsu. The two men had no way of knowing they’d be linked together as business partners and innovators later in life.

Fast forward to 1968, in the midst of Japan’s economic renaissance. Japanese corporations were emerging as leaders in international trade and manufacturing. Japan’s Ministry of Finance called for the formation of audit companies (kansa hojin) and compulsory membership for every CPA (konin kaikeishi) in the Japanese Institute of Certified Public Accountants (JICPA).

Tohmatsu and Tomita had the discipline and skills the Japanese government was looking for. They formed Tohmatsu, Awoki & Co. along with prominent CPAs from Nagoya, Kyoto, Fukuoka, and Osaka. The firm went on to become the largest accounting practice in the country. Tohmatsu set a vision from the outset to become a world-wide, full-fledged auditing firm and installed a fundamental spirit of selflessness and serving the greater good throughout the firm.

Tomita recognized that Japanese accounting would remain in the shadow of major international firms unless Japan became a key player in international auditing. He recruited Japanese auditors who worked for global competitors, promising greater opportunities for career advancement than the larger firms. Tomita also built connections with global firms via cooperative agreements, including one with Touche Ross.

Tohmatsu, Awoki & Co. became a member of Touche Ross International in 1975. When Deloitte, Haskins & Sells merged with Touche Ross in 1989, Tohmatsu joined as an equal partner to form Deloitte Touche Ross Tohmatsu International.

Today, Deloitte Tohmatsu has 13, 000-plus professionals who are leading the way in audit and assurance, consulting, financial advisory, risk, and tax services. The firm is also tackling workplace gender issues in Japan, which ranks 110 out of 149 countries in gender equality, according to the World Economic Forum.

I find it of utmost importance to work, live and set goals in the global context rather than within the confines of one nation.

- Iwao Tomita, founder of Tohmatsu, Awoki, & Co., 2011


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