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OSAKA — Former Nippon Life Insurance Co. President Gentaro Kawase died of heart failure Friday at a hospital in Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture, his family said Sunday. He was 86.

A funeral service has already been held, and the company will hold a memorial service soon.

Kawase, a native of Shiga Prefecture, joined Nippon Life in 1937. He was senior managing director, executive vice president, and became president in 1982.

During his tenure, Kawase succeeded in pushing the company to the top spot in the global insurance industry in 1987, when Nippon Life claimed the most new contracts, total assets, total number of contracts and income from premiums.

He stepped down in 1989 and had Josei Ito, 13 years his junior, replace him in an effort to rejuvenate management.

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