I hate America. I will bring them to their knees by supplying them with everything they want, and then strangling them with their own dependency. I will sell them the chain with which they will bind themselves to me.”
- Saburo Arasaka, surveillance tape stolen by Rache Bartmoss
Saburo Arasaka, Second World War hero and samurai descent, founder of the Arasaka conglomerate, is a dangerous man, who considers his company an extension of himself. He never got over Japan surrendering and losing the second world war, so he founded Arasaka, a corporation that would restore the glory of the Japanese empire not militarily but commercially and politically. In spite of being known for their security branch, Arasaka Bank is one of the most politically powerful influences of the world, by granting the appropriate loans and pushing the appropriate blackmail, they can easily play with governments and corporations to make everybody do as Arasaka Pleases.
Saburo Arasaka practiced his political skills in his homeland, Japan, heavily influencing the political scene of the 90s by pushing the “Grand Unifications of Ministries and Agencies”, similar to the remains of the Gang of 4 in the States turning into the National Law Enforcement Division, but Saburo went a step beyond and elevated the Defense Agency of Japan into the Ministry of defense under the influence of Arasaka, which helped his conglomerate, using shady tactics as usual, reduce the power of the civilian police, controlled by the competitor of Arasaka in Japan, the FACS.
This reduction of police power became a very lucrative opportunity for Arasaka Police to grow, which is one of the services offered by Arasaka Security, the branch of the company that made it famous around the world, not only because they’re good, but also because when you contract Arasaka Security you contract an insurance according to which Arasaka will reimburse all possible personal and material losses shall Arasaka fail in protecting whatever you paid them to protect. Saburo’s company kept growing and diversifying, and in the 2020s, under the guidance of his son Kei Arasaka, the Japanese conglomerate was a very strong force that no one wanted to be enemies with.
― During the 20's
Saburo Arasaka held the unofficial title of Most Powerful Man on Earth. His corporation was slightly smaller than the biggest one, Euro Business Machines, but it has more world influence. Donald Lundee, co-founder of Militech, and suspected to be the instigator of all big Corporate Wars, has always been his enemy and his envy of the Arasaka chief and the Arasaka corporation in general is widely known. On his side, Saburo came to irrationally hate Lundee and see him as the incarnation of Saburo’s personal demons when it came to losing World War 2. This is one of the reasons of the eternal enmity between those two corporations, Arasaka and Militech, not only because they are direct competition and in the dark future corporations love monopoly more than ever, and I’m sure Lundee was secretly curious as per how far would Arasaka go during the 4th Corporate war, because Militech’s access to weaponry and troops is huge, but no one knew back then just how far the Arasaka Corporation’s secret influence and resources extended. On his side, Saburo saw the 4th Corporate War as a holy crusade against the West.
Saburo married 3 times and had 3 children with 2 of his wives: Hanako, Yorinobu, and Kei. Hanako was the apple of his eye and he was overprotective with her up to a suffocating point. Kei was his favorite, and in the 20s he was the CEO of the Arasaka conglomerate, and was killed at the end of the 4th Corporate war by the netrunner Spider Murphy, who forced him to commit seppuku for his failure by using the last copy of the SoulKiller virus. Yorinobu was his great disappointment, as he didn’t follow Saburo’s vision and left the family as soon as he found out the true nature of the Arasaka conglomerate. Video about Yorinobu and the Steel Dragons, here, also link in the description.
In spite of being a cold blood murderer and a schemer, Saburo always saw himself as a good person because he had a very elevated goal in mind: restoring the glory of his country, he wasn’t looking for glory for himself, of course, reaching the position of the most wealthy and powerful person in the planet while trying to reach his goal was a total and absolute coincidence. So he was a very religious man, he prayed to 8 million gods and spirits every day, including all those killed by Arasaka, and followed the Shinto way. Because you know how religions work, you can commit the most atrocious acts and then someone with a clerical collar, or equivalent depending on the religion, comes and tells you you’re forgiven and, voilà! You can go back to mass murder and just repeat the process as many times as you want.
After the 4th Corporate War
― Saburo was on whereabouts unknown, rumor said he wasn’t dead, maybe only mourning the death of his favorite son, and after his company was nationalized by the government of Japan as a punishment for the war and his rebel son Yorinobu returned, his company split into 3 factions for his 3 children: the Bakafu faction, headed by Hanako Arasaka, the Rebel faction, headed by Yorinobu Arasaka, and the Princess faction, headed by Michiko Arasaka, daughter of Kei and granddaughter of Saburo. Every time I mention Michiko someone corrects me saying “No! Michiko was Saburo’s wife!” Yes, Yorinobu and Hanako’s mother was called Michiko, but Kei’s daughter is also called Michiko. They’re 2 different people.
During the Time of the Red, Arasaka didn’t have much power in the States, their activities there were forbidden thanks to the propaganda machinery of president Elisabeth Kress, who blamed Arasaka for the mini-nuke Militech detonated at the end of the 4th Corporate War in Night City, as she always wanted to find a way to make Arasaka out of the states. But everything changed after the Time of the Red with the Unification war, when Arasaka returned to Night city taking control of the district of Watson by bleeding other corporations dry and, therefore, ending with the stability of its financial sector, which is a very common practice of them, you just need to apply the appropriate pressure using the Arasaka Bank, this way Arasaka could make Watson its own and gain control to the port-access in the Waterfront. Why is this a strategic point? Because Night City is some sort of City State who doesn’t depend, legally speaking, on the United States, so it’s an entry point for “entities” that want to set foot in America without having to deal with the government of the States or its laws, so everything shady enters to the States there.
This movement made Arasaka regain its position in Night City and in the 70s they rebuilt the Arasaka Tower in the Corporate Center. The shiny Night City Tower is the most fortified and secure part of the city because, let’s not forget, security services and weaponry is what made Arasaka famous so they have a fame to maintain. In 2077 Saburo Arasaka is 158 years old, alive and well, which shouldn’t surprise anyone as since in the 20s there was already a way to be immortal thanks to the Megacorporation Biotechnica who developed fully functional clones that could host personalities digitalized using technology similar to the SoulKiller. Apparently, is highly likely that Biotechnica and Arasaka collaborated during the 4th Corporate War to perfect this technology, where the Japanese conglomerate fed the Engrams of their SoulKiller victims to Biotechnica for their experiments, as when the Militech team led by the former US Soldier turned Rockerboy Johnny Silverhand infiltrated the Arasaka Towers, they found the SoulKiller mainframe connected to some sort of cloning facility, although they were a little busy to investigate more. This potential collaboration between these two corporations may be the base to later develop what I think is the last iteration of the SoulKiller: the Immortality Chip, that in 2077 is originally in possession of Saburo Arasaka until his rogue son Yorinobu steals it from him, which apparently is the start of the game.