Samurai #1: Akio Morita

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Article by Anthony Al-Jamie (continued)

AKIO Morita was born the eldest son of a sake brewer and was groomed from childhood to take over as the fifteenth head of what is now a 400-year-old sake brewery. Morita studied physics at Osaka Imperial University. After graduating in 1944, he joined the Japanese Imperial Navy, where he met his future business partner, Navy researcher Masaru Ibuka.

After the war, Ibuka founded the Tokyo Telecommunications Research Institute. When Morita learned of this, he visited Ibuka and in 1946 the two of them joined forces to create Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo Inc. Ibuka devoted his energies to technological research and product development, while Morita led the organization in marketing, globalization, finance and human resources.

Morita drove the global vision of the corporation and to help market the company internationally he suggested changing the name to an easier-to-remember Sony. This, too, would allow the company to branch out into markets beyond electronics, he said. At the time, it was unheard of for a Japanese company to take on a foreign name that would be written in either English or katakana (the Japanese alphabet normally used to express foreign words or names). Despite the resistance, Morita bucked the system and created one of the world’s most recognized brands. Naming the company was just the first of a series of innovative approaches that would lead Sony to becoming one of the world’s most recognizable and trusted brands. tj

Akio Morita was selected as Samurai #1 for the following reasons:
»»his exceptional abilities in the area of intercultural communications
»»his unmatched global vision and unwavering desire to compete in the international business arena
»»his courage to move his family and international operations to the U.S. and take on the world’s most competitive market
»»his exceptional ability to earn the trust of the most powerful people in the world as well as to engage, intrigue and inspire them

Throughout his career, Morita made a global network of lifelong friends who were some of the most influential people in the world. One friend, the former U.S. Secretary of State and Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Henry Kissinger, shared his memories of Morita with the Tokyo Journal.

TJ: “What was Akio Morita’s greatest strength?”
Dr. Kissinger: “Visionary leadership allied with technical expertise.”

Tj: “What is your most memorable experience with Akio Morita?”
Dr. Kissinger: “Having dinner at his house with young leaders and then, later at night, going to his plant to see my first digital television.”

Tj:“How would you describe Akio Morita?”
Dr. Kissinger: “He was a great, patient and reliable friend of America.”

Tj:“What would you like our readers to know about Akio Morita?”
Dr. Kissinger: “Morita was an executive of extraordinary vision. He was concerned with the distant future, not only for Sony, but the world – especially in the field of technology.”

田昭夫は、400 年続く造り酒屋の長 男として生まれ、幼少のころから15 代目跡継ぎとして育てられた。1944 年に大阪帝国大学を卒業後、海軍技官となり、 研究会で将来のビジネスパートナーとなる井 深大と出会う。

戦後、井深が東京通信研究所を設立したことを 知った盛田は井深を訪ね、翌1946 年、2人 は東京通信工業株式会社を設立する。井深が技 術研究と製品開発に専念する一方で、盛田は マーケティング、国際化、財務、人事部門で組 織をリードする役割を担った。

盛田は、同社のグローバルビジョンを牽引 し、その一環として社名を東京通信工業から ソニーに変更することを提案した。国際的展 開のためにより覚えやすく、エレクトロニク
ス以外の市場にも手を広げることができる名 前だと考えたからだ。当時、日本企業が英語 あるいはカタカナの社名を採用することは前 例がなく、抵抗は大きかった。しかし、盛田 は旧弊に屈することなく、ソニーを世界で最 も認知度の高いブランドの1つに育て上げた。 社名変更は、ソニーを世界でもトップレベル の知名度と信頼を誇るブランドに押し上げる 革新的アプローチの第一歩だった。 tj

盛田昭夫を侍 ナンバー1に選んだ理由:
»»»異文化コミュニケーションにおける類まれ なる能力
»»傑出したグローバルビジョンと国際ビジネ スでの勝負を目指す熱意
»»家族とともに米国に移り住み、米国を拠点 に国際業務を展開し、国際的に最も競争の激 しい市場に乗り込む勇気
»»世界の要人たちに信頼されながらも、刺激 を与え意欲をかき立てる優れた力

盛田はそのキャリアを通じて、生涯の友となる 人々の国際的ネットワークを作り上げた。その 中には世界的に大きな影響力を持つ人々もいる。 元米国務長官でノーベル平和賞受賞者ヘンリー・ キッシンジャー博士が盛田との思い出を東京 ジャーナルに語った。

TJ: “盛田氏の最大の強みは?”
キッシンジャ: “博士:技術的専門性に裏打ちさ れた先見性のあるリーダーシップ。”

Tj: “最も印象に残る思い出は?”
キッシンジャー博士: “若いリーダーを交えて彼 の家でディナーを楽しみ、食事のあと、工場で 初めてデジタルテレビを見たこと。”

キッシンジャ: “博士:偉大で忍耐強く信頼でき るアメリカの友だった。”

Tj:“盛田氏について読者に知ってほしいこと は?”
キッシンジャ: “ー博士:盛田氏は傑出した洞察力 を持つ人物だった。特に技術領域について、ソ ニーだけでなく世界の遠い未来を見据えていた”

– Photo courtesy of Kissinger Associates, Inc.


Samurai #7: Ichiro Suzuki
Samurai #6: Seiji Ozawa

Samurai #5: Osamu Tezuka

Samurai #4: Kisho Kurokawa
Samurai #3: Soichiro Honda

Samurai #2: Akira Kurosawa

Samurai #1: Akio Morita

Written By:

Anthony Al-Jamie

Anthony Al-Jamie lived and worked in Japan for over 20 years. His in-depth understanding of Japanese language and culture has allowed him to carry out interviews with many of the most renowned individuals in Japan. He first began writing for the Tokyo Journal in the 1990s as Education Editor, later he was promoted to Senior Editor, and eventually International Editor and Executive Editor. He currently serves the Tokyo Journal as Editor-in-Chief.


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