The Karaguchi Conglomerate holds a monopoly on most of the world’s food and drinking water supply. After the Solar Wreckage and global warming left large parts of the planet unavailable for exploitation and its resources out of reach, it became apparent that having access to food and drinking water would be more valuable than ever. The KC was founded in Osaka by young chemist Masashi Karaguchi with a mission of making the most out of the limited natural resources that the island of Japan possessed. The combination of the outstanding technological advancements Karaguchi achieved, the growing global need for food and drinking water alternatives, and Karaguchi’s ties to the Yakuza made the conglomerate grow at a dizzying speed.
The company engineered crops that required less water and nutrients to grow as well as making incursions into cultured meat in order to produce meat for human consumption without the need of devoting space to cattle. The political pressure to maintain the economic growth and the company’s connection to the Yakuza forced the government to relax the legal requirements regarding food quality and the hygiene standards for laboratories and production sites, making the company even more profitable. The wide availability of food on Japanese territory made Japan’s economic recovery faster than that of other countries. However, this dependency on cheap food only strengthened the KC’s grip over the Japanese government. Eventually, the KC forced the government to legalize the cloning of non-humans, a process Karaguchi developed to simplify biological experimentation. Some also speculate that this extended into the exotic animal cloning business to service the demand of their ultra-rich clientele. The cloning technology has not been made available to anyone else, and the United Nations’ Bioethics Council heavily opposes its use, though other companies have shown interest in it. The social controversy revolving around the use of this technology has been growing stronger and stronger. The company is currently expanding to territories outside of Japan and Eastern Asia, where its political influence is weaker and is facing some pushback from competitors.
The KC is also responsible for developing cutting-edge water filtering technologies. These technologies mainly focus on recycling water contaminated by human activities, both industrial and non-industrial. There are rumors that the KC has developed a process capable of turning seawater into drinking water, but has kept it secret in order to keep the price of their bottled water products high. There are also claims that the KC sends potentially harmful products made in facilities with substandard hygiene conditions to regions of the world it intends to extort or hurt, causing diseases and malnourishment to its people. The KC denies these rumors and claims the studies that suggest their products cause cancer are inconclusive and biased. However, the fact remains: only countries that have stood up to the KC in any way have suffered these abnormal rates of diseases associated with malnutrition among their population, such as scurvy, cancer, infertility, parasites, and jaundice. Citizens of countries blacklisted by the KC can be often be recognized by the scars and marks left by the Conglomerate’s products: scorbutic gums, yellowish or greenish pigmentation of the skin, and carcinomas.
The KC holds on to its roots and tradition. Their logo is the kanjis that make up the founder’s family name arranged in a way that is similar to the Japanese flag, and the roofs of their buildings are reminiscent of traditional Japanese temples. The inner walls of their offices are decorated with paintings of rice fields and rivers, all in stereotypical Japanese style.
Their main headquarters in Osaka are divided into two separate sections: the front building is the modern part of the HQ and serves as the commercial offices and main research facilities. Access to this building is for employees and contractors only. Behind this first building is the Karaguchi sacrosanctum, a five-story high pagoda located in the middle of a zen garden. The garden is accessible only via a bridge that connects with a landing pad on the back of the commercial offices. This jewel of classical Japanese architecture is both the main personal dwelling of the Conglomerate’s CEO and a place where private meetings are held with the upper management and the most important guests. The pagoda itself is built from a special polymer that resembles wood and also carries nutrients from the rain and sun into the roots of the garden.
Although the pagoda is located in the middle of Osaka, it proves to be virtually inaccessible. A swarm of weaponized drones oversees the movement around the building and makes sure no unauthorized entities are in the area. If any threats are detected, the swarm organizes each of its members to neutralize them.