TOKYO — Yoshiharu Fukuhara, the influential former chief executive officer of Japan’s largest cosmetics company Shiseido, died Aug. 30 at age 92 of natural causes.
He worked for Shiseido his entire career, and is credited with taking the company from a domestic manufacturer to a major world player.
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“He made the corporation global,” Leonard A. Lauder told WWD of Fukuhara in 2012. “He led his company in very strategic arrangements and alignments. He was the most visionary of all the Japanese business leaders.”
Fukuhara was the grandson of Shiseido’s founder, and he led the company’s international expansion beginning in the 1960s. After joining the company in 1953 upon his graduation from Keio University, he became its first U.S. manager in 1966, and head of its international operations from 1978. He was also responsible for Shiseido becoming one of the first international cosmetics companies to enter the Chinese market in the early ’70s.
When former Shiseido president Yoshio Ohno died unexpectedly in 1987, Fukuhara stepped into the job, only five months after he had been named vice president. But 10 years later he resigned from the position and rose to the post of chairman of the board. He finally retired from active duty in 2001, when he was appointed honorary chairman.
Fukuhara told WWD in 2012 that of all his accomplishments at Shiseido, he was most proud of the work he did to turn it into a global organization.
“Even before the war, Shiseido had to become international. Otherwise, it was just going to be a local company of ours. There was that desire, which of course, because of the war and various other things, didn’t happen. But there was that basic drive to become international, and I was able to do that during my tenure,” he said.
When asked how he would like to be remembered, Fukuhara replied at the time, “One thing I’ve said is I don’t want people to remember my name, I just want them to remember what I did.”
Shiseido said that a farewell gathering to Fukuhara would be held “at a later date.”
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