Deliverer of Lifelines, Former Mitsubishi CEO Masuko Dies at 71

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
deliverer of lifelines former mitsubishi ceo masuko dies at 71

Osamu Masuko, the longtime Mitsubishi Motors boss who guided his company through turbulent waters, helped craft an alliance with Nissan and partner Renault, only to find his ship back in storm-tossed seas, has died just three weeks after his unexpected departure.

Masuko died on Thursday, aged 71, Japanese media reports. The former chairman announced his resignation on August 7th.

What wasn’t mentioned in Mitsubishi’s official send-off to Masuko, who joined Mitsubishi Motors in 2004 before becoming its president a year later, was that the executive was in seriously declining health, though health was indeed listed as the reason for his resignation. His cause of death is listed as heart failure.

“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 current CEO Takao Kato in a statement.

First tasked with turning around a serious quality and PR issue, Masuko’s tenure saw the executive bolster the brand’s standing (and manufacturing presence) in the Southeast Asia region — a key market for the automaker’s future. Named CEO and chairman in 2014, he helped bring the struggling company into the Renault-Nissan Alliance, thus ensuring access to new technologies and platforms. At the same time, he championed the development of electrified vehicles like the Outlander PHEV.

His presence during the 2018 arrest of Carlos Ghosn — and the alliance-rocking drama that followed — was no doubt reassuring to Mitsubishi employees. With the chairman hat swatted off Ghosn’s head by Japanese authorities, Masuko donned it once again, helping his company craft a going-forward plan designed to shore up its financial foundation. With the automaker’s prior growth plan not exactly panning out in north America and Europe, the Mitsubishi brand, much like its alliance partners, will focus on its strengths in receptive markets.

Masuko was succeeded as CEO last year by Kato, but remained in the chairman role.

“His wisdom and foresight will remain as an inspiration to the automotive industry, and we will always honor his memory,” said Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida in a statement.

[Image: Nissan]

Join the conversation
  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Aug 31, 2020

    "has died just three weeks after his unexpected departure" My one grandfather died a few weeks after he retired (BF Goodrich). Make those life choices carefully.

  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Aug 31, 2020

    Please accept my deepest condolences. Not a good omen for Mitsubishi though. For Nissan as well.

  • ToolGuy "At risk of oversimplification, a heat pump takes ambient air, compresses it, and then uses the condenser’s heat to warm up the air it just grabbed from outside."• This description seems fairly dramatically wrong to me.
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  • El scotto My iPhone gets too hot while using the wireless charging in my BMW. One more line on why someone is a dumbazz list?
  • Buickman yeah, get Ron Fellows each time I get a Vette. screw Caddy.
  • Dusterdude The Detroit 2.5 did a big disservice by paying their CEO’s so generously ( overpaying them ) It is a valid talking point for for the union ) However , the bottom line - The percentage of workers in the private sector who have a defined benefit pension plan is almost non existent - and the reason being is it’s unaffordable ! . This is a a huge sticking point as to have lower tier workers join would be prohibitive ( aside from other high price demands being requested - ie >30% wage gain request ) . Do the math - can a company afford to pay employees for 35 years , followed by funding a pension for a further 30 years ?