March 25, 2013
Hitachi Mourns Passing of Dr. Tsutomu Kanai, Former President of Hitachi, Ltd. and Honorary Citizen awardee of Singapore
Singapore, March 25, 2013 — Hitachi, Ltd. today mourns the passing of Dr. Tsutomu Kanai, a former President of Hitachi and 2006 Honorary Citizen awardee of Singapore, who passed away on March 19. He was 84.
He was born on February 26, 1929, in Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, Japan. Dr. Kanai joined Hitachi, Ltd. after completing a degree at the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Engineering in 1958. He first worked at Hitachi’s Central Research Laboratory and became involved in the research targeting thermal fluids for nuclear reactors. After which, he was transferred to Hitachi Works, where he worked on the startup of domestic production for nuclear power systems, which became an important application in today’s Japan’s energy policies. He was also involved in the construction of the Chugoku Electric Company’s Shimane Nuclear Power Station Unit1, Japan’s first fully-constructed nuclear power plant completed in 1974. In June 1981, Dr. Kanai was appointed General Manager of Hitachi Works and worked to achieve greater stability and efficiency in Hitachi’s heavy electrical equipment business. In June 1985, he became part of Hitachi’s management as Vice President and General Manager of the Power Systems Division. Upon his appointment as President of Hitachi, Ltd. in June 1991, Dr. Kanai put forth the goal of promoting international development in harmony with management reforms tied directly into the market, and built a management structure at Hitachi, Ltd. that could respond effectively to the globalization of markets.
With his presidency marked by the economic slowdown due to the collapse of Japan’s bubble economy, Dr. Kanai implemented Hitachi’s transition to a business division structure from the previous organizations that had been in place for many years. With the re-organization, the plants acted as profit centers to support Hitachi’s management. Promoting a shift to market-oriented management, he incorporated functions such as design, development, and planning into each business division. In 1995, he introduced the Group system to further strengthen the structure which gave independent responsibility to each business field. He also kicked off the new business supervisory office, a cross-cutting organization under the direct jurisdiction of the president, seeking out major opportunities that would tie into new businesses while leveraging technologies that cut across multiple business fields through strengthening consolidated Group management, in part by establishing the Hitachi Group Council, contributing to increased corporate value for the Hitachi Group.
With Dr. Kanai’s determination to establish Hitachi’s business abroad, he expanded overseas sales, production, and procurement and became the company’s foundation of promoting harmonious international business. Local production, international procurement, and technology collaborations opened the path for the further strengthening of Hitachi’s global rollout.
After being appointed Chairman of the Board in 1999, he boosted corporate governance by adopting the Committee System.
In response to the growing societal needs, Dr. Kanai established the Environment Division in 1991. Based on environmental protection action guidelines, he promoted the activities of the Environmental Committee to include the elimination of CFCs from all Hitachi products, and to promote product recyclability. In 1994, he launched the ISO Certification Committee, with major focus on the environment.
Ever since his tenure as president, Dr. Kanai has devoted his attention to increasing Hitachi’s customer satisfaction.
He was also dedicated to activities in assisting the improvement of electronics technologies and in encouraging young engineers. In 1997, Japan’s Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) established the “Tsutomu Kanai Awards,” which are presented to individuals who make notable international contributions in promoting computing system technologies and their applications. From the year, he was Vice-Chairman of the Japan Business Federation, endeavoring to achieve growth and development in the Japanese economy. He has held other numerous important positions, including Chairman of the Communications Industry Association of Japan, Chairman of the Japan Electrical Manufacturers’ Association, and Chairman of the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers, making substantial contributions to the growth of the industry.