In Japan’s business world, past and present, older businessmen abound and it is not unusual for company Presidents to not step down until their late 60s.
From early on, however, Akio Morita has his doubt about this system. He felt it wasn’t good for an elderly businessman to cling on for years at the top.
“Because Japan’s economy is still not affluent, we don’t have the concept of retirement…I think that’s extremely harmful” (Zaikai, New Year Special Edition, 1965)
Akio was still only 44 when he said this, and the statement might be attributed to his youth, but 8 years late, aged 52, he says the same thing.
“An era is coming that has no place for the over 50s…In the next 25 years that will see great chance, we in our 50s are too old to match that chance. We are already living behind the times with the current generation, and although it might be possible for us to change ourselves a little, when it comes to the next generation, we’ll be out of the running. Because of this I really want to hand over quickly to the next generation that will themselves usher in the great changes to come. (Shukan Gendai, September 1973)
Three years later Akio handed over the position of President to Kazuo Iwama, and became Chairman. Although it was suspected he would keep control behind the scenes, he in fact devoted himself to activities in the business world, and entrusted Kazuo with running the company. Akio was 55 at the time, an age at which、 in many companies, one can’t yet become a President, but he was ready to lead by example.
From:The Sayings of Akio Morita, published by Sony Magazines.