Japanese business pioneer, philanthropist Kazuo Inamori dies at 90
TOKYO — Kazuo Inamori, founder of Japanese ceramics and electronics maker Kyocera who also became a philanthropist singing the virtues of fairness and hard work, has died. He was 90 years old.
Inamori, who also founded major telecommunications company KDDI Corp., died Aug. 24 of natural causes at his home in Kyoto, Kyocera announced Tuesday.
Inamori established Kyocera as an insulator manufacturing company in 1959, with an investment of 3 million yen ($22,000) of his acquaintances.
As he struggled to build his business, Inamori came up with his management philosophy which emphasized people, doing the right thing and what he called “corporate character”, the Japanese equivalent old-fashioned way of professionalism and ethical standards.
His pioneering thoughts for the modernization of Japan were based on the idea that workers and companies should be motivated by pure intentions, not by greed, and ultimately by the desire to serve society.
His ideas covered principles on fair competition, the fair pursuit of profit and the need for managerial transparency, as well as living a virtuous life as an individual, for which he listed six principles: diligence, humility, reflection, gratitude, benevolence and detachment. .
“Superiors who seem to agree with their subordinates on every point may seem like loving bosses, but they actually spoil and ruin their employees,” he once wrote.
“True love demands that we seek rigorously to discern what is truly best for others.”
In the 1980s, Inamori established a school called Seiwajyuku to teach his management philosophy at more than 100 locations, about half of them overseas, which claims to have taught about 15,000 business owners and entrepreneurs worldwide .
Inamori also oversaw the recovery from bankruptcy of Japan’s main carrier Japan Airlines, or JAL, in 2010 as a board member.
In 1984, Inamori established his non-profit organization called the Inamori Foundation, which annually awards the Kyoto Prize to recognize humanitarian contributions around the world.
Inamori noted that all living beings, including flowers and animals, simply want to survive, and human beings are no different. To do well, you have to love the work you do, he said repeatedly, so you end up working harder than anyone else.
A private funeral was held with his family. Inamori is survived by his wife Asako and three daughters. An official farewell service may be held later, but details are undecided, Kyocera said.
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