Who is Yorinobu Arasaka?
―He’s the youngest son of Saburo Arasaka. Saburo had 3 sons from 2 different wives: from one wife he had Kei, former CEO of the Arasaka conglomerate who was killed at the end of the 4th Corporate War, and from the other he had Hanako, and Yorinobu.
Why Is Yorinobu so special inside the Arasaka family? When he turned 21 years old, after finishing the Todai, in his graduation party, Saburo took his son to his private chambers and explained to him the true nature of the Arasaka conglomerate.
So, son, see this Arasaka Security thing that made our company famous? Well, that’s not the thing that has made the company powerful, what made the company powerful is the Arasaka bank. I know that with enough extortion and political influence, killing the appropriate people and massacring the workers of the appropriate corp, we can restore the glory of the Empire of the Sun and make Japan the biggest superpower of the world,
Saburo proceeded to explain the shady details about it, but it’s not like Yorinobu shared the vision of his father. He was appalled and he didn’t want to be related to this in any way, shape, or form. So right after the dinner given in his honor, Yorinobu escaped from the Arasaka compound in Tokyo and “hasta luego Maricarmen” as we say in Spain. Meaning: good riddance, Arasaka. So what was Yorinobu’s plan from that day? To bring Araska down, because they’re the bastion of evil.
Apart from a lot of knowledge on how Arasaka operates, Yorinobu also had a “superpower”. Not in the sense of, you know, Marvel superheroes. He had charismatic leadership, which is usually the ability of rockerboys, Yorinobu was no rockerboy but he had the charismatic leadership of Johnny Silverhand. So, he gathered a group of Tokyo nomads under his command, called the Steel Dragons, who not only swore loyalty to him, they also swore to expose and destroy Arasaka. and that's not a mere trifle, although, as I said before, Yorinobu knew the structure of Arasaka. He knew how Arasaka operates so they struck the company heavily several times. When he was not with his men, he was traveling around the world. Meeting other enemies of Arasaka and looking for funds and equipment.
Saburo Arasaka didn’t take this disloyalty very well, he was saddened and acknowledged Yorinobu had to be destroyed. Kei hated his half brother with a passion and wanted him dead at all costs. Hanako, on the other hand, missed his brother as she felt a special bond with him. In the times before the 4th Corporate War, Hanako wasn’t very aware of the true nature of his father’s company she had some suspicions but not that she understood what was going on really well. So the shock when she found out should’ve caused a bigger wave than the mini-nuke that exploded at the end of the 4th Corporate War. Kei hated his brother with a passion, and wanted him dead. So he set out a group of operatives with the mission of crushing the Steel Dragons and killing his brother. Although the lore doesn’t say this specifically, I’m under the impression, given something that happened later, that the exact order of Kei was to bring Yorinobu alive to him so he could kill his brother himself.
Kei had a lucky strike and during a sweep on Night City some of the local contacts of Yorinobu were taken prisoners, interrogated, and executed. One of these contacts was a guy called Hiraga who knew the identities of many high ranking contributors and Dragons. All this information obtained on the structure of the Steel Dragons was stored in the Arasaka Towers in Night city where Yorinobu had a contact who intercepted the data before it could be sent to the headquarters of Arasaka in Tokyo to order the assassination of these high ranking Dragons, but this contact was traced down and he had to commit suicide after destroying the data to avoid capture. Unfortunately, the regional security director of Arasaka - Iwasao Koremichi, had a hard copy with this information, or so did Yorinobu thought. Maybe it was just a decoy, because even though Yourinobu’s strike team on Night City intercepted and destroyed this info, it didn’t prevent Arasaka to strike the Steel Dragons hard.
The very next year the 4th Corporate War erupted
― The 4th Corporate war erupted on November 20th, 2021 although it didn’t get totally serious until Arasaka and Millitech got into it. As the Steel Dragons were known for being fierce enemies of Arasaka, Militech tried to lure Yorinobu to its ranks, although he refused. Not that he loved Megacorporations in general. What Yorinobu did, though was providing information to the government of Japan about the true activities of his father’s company. A thing that would play a major role in the nationalization of Arasaka the following year as a punishment for the war. But Yorinobu couldn’t celebrate his victory as he was captured and his brother used the SoulKiller on him on September 24th, 2022, and he kept the engram of Yorinobu in the storage core for the SoulKiller program in the Arasaka Towers in the corporate center of Night City.
What’s an Engram? An Engram is a digital construct, the digital soul of someone. Actually, it’s a digitalization of the soul of someone so technically is a copy and not the real thing and we could be discussing this specific point for hours because it’s one of the big transhumanist questions, what makes you the person you are? Your body? Your personality? Is your engram really you? You will have a lot of chances to think about this since Johnny Silverhand is an engram in 2077.
When the Militech Strike team led by the former US soldier turned rockerboy Johnny Silverhand and the solo Morgan Blackhand infiltrated the Arasaka towers on August 2023, they reached the SoulKiller labs. Which was their main objective, and they found the engram of Yorinobu Arasaka there. Next to a cloning facility with some kind of neural uploading system hooked into the SoulKiller storage core. The equipment seemed to have been used and the team found tissue samples labeled as Alt and Yorinobu Arasaka. Although as they had a job to do not like they stopped to find out what was going on there exactly. Militech’s team carried with them enough memory storage to save Yorinobu, who could be a powerful ally. If not to the particular cause of Militech, to the cause of destroying Arasaka, which is one of Militech’s goals, so yeah, because Arasaka still works more or less like a dynasty, meaning Yorinobu, as the male heir, would be the one to inherit the mantle of power should Kei and Saburo be “incapacitated”, and as Kei Arasaka was killed shortly after by the Netrunner Spider Murphy, ironically using the last copy of the SoulKiller virus to store him in a SoulKiller prison that Rache Bartmoss built just for him.
Spider Murphy didn’t kill Kei Arasaka
―but forced him to commit seppuku for his failure and for causing the collapse of his clan. Kei Arasaka was killed and Saburo Arasaka was on whereabouts unknown, this made Yorinobu Arasaka the new leader of the Araska Conglomerate, a thing that his family, especially his niece, daughter of Kei, wouldn’t accept lightly. So after the nationalization of the company by the government of Japan as a punishment for the 4th Corporate War, and also due to the information Yorinobu Arasaka provided to the Japanese government. Internal fights in Arasaka divided the corp into 3 factions for the 3 sons of Saburo Arasaka: the Bakafu Faction, headed by Hanako Arasaka, the Princess faction, headed by Michiko Arasaka, Kei’s daughter, and the Rebel Faction, headed by Yorinobu Arasaka, leader of the Steel Dragons.
What happened to the company between this event in the 30s and 2077 is still a mystery and we won’t have a canon explanation until the pen and paper game Cyberpunk Red is out at the end of summer. Red only explains up to the 50s, so we will still have a gap to discover in the video game. Although, there are some things that we could theorize because everything makes a lot of sense. In the 20s, Biotechnica found the way to create fully-functional clones and using technology similar to the SoulKiller. They could implant personalities to these clones, so we can guess that, as Yorinobu Arasaka has a body in 2077, and enough money to buy a clone. That’s exactly what he did. When Alt Cunningham invented the SoulKiller, she wanted to find a way to preserve the personalities of dying people and with the SoulKiller she invented the key to immortality.