The concept of stakeholder capitalism has long been familiar in Japan. Businesses have been aware of the importance of engaging multiple stakeholders and acting for the good of society since the Edo Period (1603 to 1868) and the Meiji Era (1868 to 1912).

It all began with the Omi shōnin merchants, who sold mosquito nets, mattresses, medicine, textiles, fertilizers and various other goods throughout the country. Omi shōnin would bring goods back home to Omi, present day Shiga Prefecture, and later came to operate their businesses in the regions that they've visited. The success of Omi shōnin comes from the business philosophy, "sanpō yoshi," or "three-way satisfaction" between the seller, buyer and society.

For merchants to be successful traveling throughout various regions and cultures, it was vital for them to gain the trust of their buyers. They were not able to revisit regions without the welcome of the community. Communities then made investments in businesses to share the success and profits.