It's a sad time for Mitsubishi Motors.
Just three weeks ago, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) announced that their Chairman and former president and CEO, Osamu Masuko, is resigning from his active role in the company. The company cited health reasons for Masuko's resignation.
Now, however, Mitsubishi Motors has made another announcement: Osamu Masuko passed away on August 27.
He was 71 years old.
"On behalf of the deceased former Chairman, Mr. Masuko, we would like to express our sincere gratitude for the generosity that he and MMC received," said Takao Kato, representative executive officer, chief executive officer, MMC.
Masuko had been at the head of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation for quite a long time, first taking the helm in 2005, and assumed a variety of roles at the top. The timing of Masuko's rise in Mitsubishi Motors is important, as he had to steer the company through troubled roads and fraught with challenges.
The grandfatherly executive, however, didn't back down from the challenge. He developed and implemented a plan to revitalize MMC, and pushed the company to develop new technologies particularly in the field of environmentally-friendly drive systems.
Masuko also oversaw the acquisition of the biggest stake of Mitsubishi Motors by Nissan in 2016. While at the time it was seen as an industry scandal given the circumstances that prompted it (read: fuel economy mis-declarations), the move gave Mitsubishi renewed energy to push for new models and improve the potential for profitability given the membership into an alliance with Nissan and Renault.
The executive was particularly important in ensuring that MMC was competitive in Southeast Asia and expanded production to match. ASEAN is the key market for Mitsubishi but specifically had an eye out for the Philippines.
He considered the performance of Mitsubishi in the Philippines to be vital for the company, as this is a market wherein Mitsubishi Motors commands second place overall in terms of sales and market share. The last time we checked, no other market does Mitsubishi have such a successful position in the industry.
We at AutoIndustriya have had several sit down sessions and interviews with Osamu Masuko in the past couple of years both here (he made it a point to visit major Mitsubishi events in the Philippines) and abroad, and he has always answered our questions directly, be it about the resurrection of the L300 as a Euro4 model, the expansion of the Mirage for local production, or about the then-tricky acquisition by Nissan.
Rest in peace, Masuko-san. Domo arigato.