Tuesday, March 19, 2013
DJ: JAL's Honorary Chairman Inamori To Retire March 31
TOKYO--Japan Airlines Co. (9201) said Tuesday that its honorary chairman will retire from its board, ending the business entrepreneur's three-year tenure during which he successfully turned around the once beleaguered carrier into one of the world's healthiest airlines.
- Honorary Chairman Kazuo Inamori, left, will retire from JAL's board, ending his three-year tenure.
"I accepted this job with no confidence, but I applied my best efforts," Kazuo Inamori said at a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday.
Mr. Inamori's turn at JAL caps a remarkable career. The 81-year-old management guru founded Japanese electronic parts maker Kyocera Corp. and a major telecom company KDDI Corp. After some nudging by the then-ruling Democratic Party of Japan, in 2010 he agreed to take on the Herculean task of bringing JAL out of the depths of bankruptcy. His business acumen and innovative skill has made him one of the most revered postwar Japanese entrepreneurs, considered in the same legendary ranks as Sony Corp. co-founder Akio Morita and auto-industry legend Soichiro Honda.
He leaves JAL in firm financial standing. The carrier relisted its stock in a triumphant return last year, with its IPO ranking the second-largest behind Facebook Inc. It was the first company ever to return to the main board of Tokyo's stock exchange after going through Japan's version of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It was a remarkably fast comeback. JAL became one of Japan's largest ever corporate failures just three years ago when it filed for bankruptcy with $30 billion in debt.
JAL raised its net-profit forecast for the current fiscal year to Y163 billion, up from an earlier forecast of Y140 billion during its most recent quarterly earnings announcement last month.
Mr. Inamori, also a Buddhist monk, introduced a cost-conscious culture at the once profligate national airline.
Through applying Mr. Inamori's business philosophy called "Amoeba Management," JAL was able to control costs more precisely. It divided the whole company into small organized units, and made each accountable for its own budget.
Mr. Inamori also brought in a 125-page booklet, "JAL Philosophy," carried by all 32,000 remaining employees. The pocket book drastically changed their mind-set to better serve customers.