Muneyuki Matsushita, president of the Asahi Shimbun, one of the nation’s leading dailies, died of pneumonia at a Tokyo hospital Tuesday morning, the newspaper said. He was 65.

Matsushita was hospitalized in mid-January after catching influenza, which developed into pneumonia, the Asahi said.

Matsushita joined the daily as a reporter upon graduating with a degree in literature from the University of Tokyo in 1958. He held such posts as chief political news editor, editor in chief and senior managing director, and became Asahi president in June 1996.

The board of directors held a meeting Tuesday and appointed Shinichi Hakoshima, a senior managing director who has served as acting president of the newspaper since Wednesday, as the new president. Matsushita was hospitalized in September and had returned to his office after receiving treatment for lung cancer.

He decided in March 1997 to buy a 21.4 percent equity stake in Asahi National Broadcasting Co. (TV Asahi) from Softbank-News Corp. Media Co., a joint venture between Japan’s Softbank Corp. and media tycoon Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., to prevent a takeover of the TV station by the joint venture, which had acquired the stake from a Japanese publisher.

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