Business People

Morita Akio


Morita AkioMore than any other businessman in the postwar period, Morita was the face of the Japanese business miracle. He was chosen as one of the century's 20 most influential businessmen by Time magazine and he made Sony the world's best-known brand. As a co-founder of Sony Corporation, with Ibuka Masaru (1908~97) he created a company and a business philosophy that for many people epitomizes Japan's success. Perhaps the first 'internationalist' among postwar Japanese businessmen, Morita ensured that Sony was the first Japanese company to establish a production plant in the US (San Diego, California), list its stocks on the New York Stock Exchange (in 1970) and hire foreign executives. Also as a member of the Japan-United States Economic Relations Group, he was active in promoting smooth trade relations between the two countries. In 1993, before he experienced a stroke, Morita was the leading candidate to become chairman of Keidanren, one of Japan's biggest and most influential business organizations. He was posthumously awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun for his achievements in the business world.

Morita was a physics graduate of Osaka University. He founded Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation (the forerunner of Sony) with Ibuka in 1946, became president in 1971 and chairman in1976. He is credited with the development of 'consumer electronics', devices such as radios and cassette players small enough to be portable. The first international success was the world's smallest transistor radio introduced in 1955 and the most famous was, of course, the Sony Walkman. Morita also co-authored two famous books, 'The Japan That Can Say No' with current Tokyo governor Ishihara Shintaro and 'Made In Japan' with journalist Shimomura Mitsuko. He was a consumate salesman and, unlike most Japanese businessmen, had no trouble dealing with Americans and their media. But, in spite of his international outlook, Morita remained very much a proud Japanese. In this sense, even after his passing he remains a real inspiration to his fellow countrymen.