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Cyberpunk 2077: The Untold Truth Of The Arasaka Corporation

Cyberpunk 2077's Dec. 10, 2020 launch wasn't ideal, to put it mildly. But assuming your version of the game is actually playable and you're willing to overlook the game's many bugs, its ethically dubious development history, and the many misleading statements from publisher and developer CD Projekt Red, it does offer a rich and engaging story full of complex characters. After all, the tabletop game it's based on has been around since 1988, years before CD Projekt Red got involved. 


Like the tabletop games, Cyberpunk 2077 takes place in the dystopian future metropolis of Night City, where corporations run everything. The Arasaka Corporation has long been one of the most powerful companies in the world of Cyberpunk, tracing its roots to the Japanese military during World War II before becoming one of the world's most powerful companies and private militaries in the 21st century.

The Arasaka Corporation is no doubt familiar to Cyberpunk fans. But even diehards may not know the full story.

The Arasaka Corporation is probably based on a real-life Japanese rifle inventor

The Arasaka Corporation is an obvious parallel to Japanese megacorporations like Toyota and Sony, but it may have a more specific inspiration. Per Redditor u/jackpincolini92, the Arasaka Corporation is most likely based on the real-life Nariakira Arisaka, inventor of the Arisaka rifle. Their names are obviously similar, but so are their histories.


The Arisaka rifle was the standard rifle used by the Japanese military from the early 20th century to World War II. Meanwhile, the Arasaka Corporation got its start as the main supplier for the Japanese military in that period. Nariakira Arisaka and the Arasaka Corporation's CEO, Saburo Arasaka, both served in the Japanese military before becoming the heads of weapons companies (although Nariakira Arisaka worked directly for the Japanese military and never founded his own company). 

Finally, Saburo Arasaka's overall goal is to re-establish the Japanese empire of the 20th century, with himself as shogun. While Nariakira Arisaka didn't have any apparent ambition to become shogun himself, the Historical Dictionary of the Russo-Japanese War states that he was born "as the fourth son of a samurai retainer" who had served the Tokugawa shogunate.


The Arasaka Corporation's portrayal is rooted in American anti-Japanese paranoia from the 1980s

Though Cyberpunk 2077 takes place in the 2070s, the Arasaka Corporation is the embodiment of Japanese military aggression from the 1930s and '40s. At the start of the game, Arasaka's CEO, Saburo Arasaka, is literally a relic from this period, still in control at the age of 158. In-game books make it clear that Saburo Arasaka is consumed by a hatred of America. His entire goal for the Arasaka Corporation is to destroy the U.S. economically where the Empire of Japan failed militarily in the 1940s.


As writers like Kazuma Hashimoto have pointed out, East Asian corporations with imperialistic aims are a common and even tired trope in the cyberpunk genre. The cyberpunk genre emerged in the 1980s, a time when, according to Business Insider, increased competition from Japanese corporations led many Americans to worry that their country would fall under Japanese control. Japan and America's relationship has evolved since then, but Cyberpunk 2077's imagining of the Arasaka Corporation is still stuck in the past.