Honoring the Memory of Mr. Katsushige Mita, Chairman Emeritus of Hitachi, Ltd. and the Founder of The Hitachi Foundation
"The Foundation would help us to learn what Hitachi needed to do to meet its responsibilities as a corporate citizen in the United States and other communities throughout the world. We also hoped that The Foundation's activities would promote deeper understanding of Japan among Americans." - Katsushige Mita
Katsushige Mita's presidency at Hitachi, Ltd. spanned the most turbulent decade in Japan-U.S. relations since World War II. Just as Ambassador Mike Mansfield was urging recognition of this "most important bilateral relationship in the world, bar none" the two countries engaged in fiercely divisive competition for economic and technological preeminence. Fear and lack of understanding between the two cultures fanned the flames of hostility threatening irreparable damage.
In 1981, when he assumed Hitachi's helm, he knew instinctively that corporations must play a leadership role in bridging the growing bilateral divide. Thus began a period in which his vision and Hitachi's pioneering spirit defined a new terrain of corporate diplomacy and global citizenship.
During his tenure as President, Hitachi implemented a bold strategy to ease tensions, repair relationship and pave the way for Hitachi's growth in North America. to be an effective global business Hitachi must be rooted in the local societies in which it operates. To conduct business in the United States, Hitachi must understand and be part of America. It was not sufficient to make products in Japan for export. Hitachi's products should be made by American hands. Hitachi located factories in North America and hired American executives. Americans should be shareholders. Hitachi listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Hitachi employees and executives should be part of the fabric of American communities. The Hitachi Foundation was created with a mission to promote sincere and meaningful corporate participation in American communities, help Hitachi leadership understand what Americans expect of good corporate citizens, and improve understanding of Japanese culture among Americans. (Photo: Mr. Mita and the Foundation's founding Chair Elliot L. Richardson at the Foundation's 1990 Board Meeting held in Tokyo, Japan)
Chaired by The Honorable Elliot L. Richardson and guided by a board and staff of highly distinguished Americans, the Foundation would not only help Hitachi, it would also help strengthen society.
As the twentieth century approached its final years, the bilateral relationship was secure and the tensions that had dominated the 1980s and early 1990s receded into history. As was his way, Katsishige Mita looked ahead to the challenges of the new century. In his 1999 message to The Hitachi Foundation Board of Directors he said:
"As we approach the 21st century we enter a period of major political, economic and societal changes. Facing the new century we must be resolute in carrying out reforms. The Japan-U.S. relations are in excellent shape right now thanks to the efforts of the people of the two nations. It is my earnest desire to see The Hitachi Foundation continue to be a bridge between Japan and the U.S."
Dr. Mita's life achievements illustrate the best qualities of global citizenship. His vision still inspires and guides the Foundation's work. He understood, in a way that is rare among corporate leaders, that companies must play a critical role in strengthening global society. Building sincere relationships based upon mutual understanding was not to be found in the management texts, but it was the driving force of Dr. Mita's approach to leadership.