Hiromasa Seki, honorary chairman of Hakuhodo Inc., died of heart failure at his home in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo, on Sept. 18, the company said. He was 98.

Seki, born in 1904, graduated from Tokyo University of Commerce, the predecessor of Hitotsubashi University, and joined Hakuhodo in 1931 as a director.

Hakuhodo was founded by his father, Hironao Seki. The advertising agency is the second largest in Japan after Dentsu Inc.

Seki was at the center of the firm’s management for some 70 years, witnessing the growth of Japan’s advertising industry from its incunabula to maturity, a Hakuhodo official said.

Seki became vice president in 1945, rising to chairman in 1966.

In 1983, he became honorary chairman and director, holding both posts until 2000, when he stepped down as director but remained honorary chairman.

Hakuhodo will hold a memorial service for Seki at Takanawa Prince Hotel in Minato Ward, Tokyo, on Oct. 31.

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