A Series of Adversities……Memories/Kazuo Inamori “Ordained Roundabout at the Age of 65” Photo
A great businessman has passed away after a tumultuous life.
On August 30, it was announced that Kazuo Inamori, founder of major electronics manufacturer Kyocera Corporation and honorary chairman of Japan Airlines (JAL), had passed away. Inamori, who was 90 years old at the time of his death, is known as the “God of Management,” having built Kyocera and KDDI into major corporations and restructured JAL after its bankruptcy. However, he faced a series of adversities in his youth.
During the Pacific War, he tried to enter the entrance examination for Kagoshima Daiichi Junior High School, but failed two years in a row. In the university entrance examination, he failed to enter the medical school of Osaka University and went on to the newly established Kagoshima Prefectural University (now Kagoshima University). He also failed to get a job at an oil company, which was his first choice.
He began working as an engineer at Shofu Kogyo, an insulator manufacturer in Kyoto, but clashed with his boss over the development of ceramic parts. He left the company and founded Kyoto Ceramic (now Kyocera) with eight colleagues at the age of 27. Inamori stayed overnight at the factory day after day, and within 12 years of its founding, the company was listed on the Osaka Securities Exchange,” said a reporter from the economics department of a national newspaper.
Kyocera currently employs about 83,000 people on a consolidated basis. In one generation, Inamori transformed a small town factory into a world-class corporation.
Why did a great businessman become a priest?
Inamori, a well-known businessman, entered Buddhism in June 1997 at the age of 65. He received his ordination at Enpukuji Temple of the Rinzai sect in Yawata City, Kyoto.
Before that, Inamori had said that he wanted to retire from the front lines of business management at the age of 65 to study Buddhism. When he was a child, Mr. Inamori had wandered from the brink of death due to tuberculosis. This experience has led him to develop an interest in religion.
He told Kyocera employees, based on Buddhist beliefs, “All happiness and unhappiness are a result of one’s own actions,” Inamori said. Every happiness and every misfortune is brought about by one’s own mind. Good and bad things are determined by one’s own mind. What Mr. Inamori cherished was his management philosophy, “Philosophy.
The following January 1998, Mr. Inamori returned to the “mundane world. Inamori returned to the “mundane world” in January 1998, and from then on, his management style was more and more colored by Buddhism.
One of Inamori’s mottos is ‘altruism. One of Inamori’s mottos is ‘altruism,’ which is a Buddhist term for putting the interests of others before one’s own merits. He was entrusted with the restructuring of the bankrupt JAL and assumed the chairman’s position without compensation in February 2010 based on the idea that ‘the highest act of a human being is to serve the world and benefit others. He was a manager who could see the big picture, always keeping in mind his employees and the world.
The passing of this great manager has been mourned not only in the business world, but also in the worlds of politics, sports, and entertainment.
Photography： Ryu Kanzaki, Haruki Shimokoshi, Junichi Tanimoto