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The word "tycoon" as we know it today, is most commonly used to describe an extremely wealthy and influential business person. It was incorporated into the English language during the 1800s. Historically, it was also an affectionate nickname of American President Abraham Lincoln. And it was because of this nickname, that use of the word became popularised.

The word "Tycoon" is derived from the Japanese word "Taikun" (大君), a title for the shogun which means "Great Lord".

The usage of this title was introduced by the Japanese scholar Hayashi Razan (林羅山) (1583–1657) who lived during the early Tokugawa dynasty founded by Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康). It was opposed by Arai Hakuseki (新井白石) (1657–1725) who was the personal adviser to the sixth Tokugawa shogun. Hakuseki felt that the title was inappropriate because it was already being used in China as a title of respect to its Emperor, as well as in Korea where it was a title for its Crown Prince. He believed that the title was undue and insulting for it created a confusion between the Emperor's divine status and shogun's political vassalship to the Emperor. Instead, he suggested the use of the word "Kokuo" (国王) (National King) as a title for the shogun and "Tenno" (天皇) (Heavenly Emperor) for the Emperor.

Hakuseki's recommendations were implemented for a short period of time until increasing opposition brought back the use of the official title of Taikun.


  • Earl, David Magarey (1964), Emperor and Nation in Japan: Political Thinkers of the Tokugawa Period, Seattle: University of Washington Press. ISBN 0-31323-105-2.
  • Japanese history class ;-) —Terra.</ref>

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