Honoring the Memory of Mr. Hirokichi Yoshiyama, Former Chairman Emeritus of Hitachi, Ltd. and the Benefactor of The Hitachi Foundation's Yoshiyama Program
"At the time of my retirement as the Chairman of Hitachi, Ltd. in 1987, I wanted to do something to express my gratitude to the American people for the many things I learned from the United States as a business executive. Particularly, I wanted to do something for the young people responsible for America's future." - Mr. Hirokichi Yoshiyama
2007 marks the twentieth anniversary of Hirokichi Yoshiyama's remarkable gift to American youth. As Chairman of Hitachi, Ltd. in the mid 1980s, Mr. Yoshiyama along with Hitachi, Ltd. president Katsushige Mita and the honorable Elliot Richardson, established The Hitachi Foundation in North America. Upon his retirement from Hitachi in 1987, he made a pledge to encourage youth leadership in addressing the critical issues of our time. Mr. Yoshiyama's extraordinary vision, dedication and generosity led to the Yoshiyama Award for Exemplary Service to the Community. Since 1987, hundreds have been honored. This award provides fuel to propel them forward in lives of meaning and positive social impact.
Hirokichi Yoshiyama with the late Elliot Richardson at a Yoshiyama Award luncheon
Mr. Yoshiyama joined Hitachi in 1935 but it was during his ten years as president, beginning in 1971 that the company emerged as a truly global company. Rapid economic expansion in Japan came to an abrupt halt triggered by changes in U.S. monetary policy and the first significant world oil crisis in the early 1970s. Pressure mounted to address the environmental consequences of growth within Japan and to find new markets for Japanese products.
Mr. Yoshiyama's firm hand guided Hitachi through these turbulent times setting a goal to establish overseas operations and to reduce to zero levels of noise and emissions of harmful pollutants. In the process Hitachi's R&D produced state-of-the-art pollution prevention systems and the company established a nonprofit Environmental Research Center to conduct independent analysis and education to the general public on environmental matters.
Mr. Yoshiyama paved the way for investment overseas by having Hitachi listed on each of the European stock exchanges and ultimately the New York Stock Exchange, becoming the first Japanese company to acquire AAA ratings from both Moody's and Standard & Poors. During his tenure, Hitachi opened its first two plants in the United States: a semiconductor operation 1978 and a home electronics manufacturing facility in 1979.
Elliot Richardson, Hirokichi and Mrs. Yoshiyama and the 1989 Yoshiyama Awardees with First Lady Barbara Bush
Mr. Yoshiyama ensured that Hitachi's core values of harmony, sincerity and the pioneering spirit would define the company's transition onto the world stage. He dedicated Hitachi's ingenuity to address environmental problems and ensured that overseas operations were rooted in their host countries. In the U.S. Americans were investing and working in Hitachi companies and Hitachi's social contributions were helping to strengthen American communities.
Mr. Yoshiyama came to America to personally deliver the Yoshiyama Award until his doctors restricted his travel in 1998, at age 87. In subsequent years he would craft a special message to deliver to the young award recipients. He touched so many lives and his legacy will endure.