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Norio Ohga, former chairman and president of Sony Corp., plans to donate all 1.6 billion yen of his retirement benefits after taxes to the town of Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, company and town officials said Wednesday.

Part of the money will be used to build a concert hall in the summer resort, the officials said.

“We are truly happy,” Karuizawa Mayor Masayoshi Sato told reporters in Nagano. “It is such a large amount of money. I cannot express (my feelings) in words.”

Ohga, 73, a former classical opera singer, recuperated in Karuizawa after collapsing in November 2001 at the fourth Beijing Music Festival while he was conducting the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. He was diagnosed as having suffered a stroke.

Sato said he received a formal donation offer from Ohga, now honorary chairman of Sony, by telephone Tuesday. He said Ohga had suggested last year that he donate his after-tax retirement allowances to the town.

Karuizawa plans to build a concert hall with a seating capacity of some 600 to the north of JR Karuizawa Station. Work has started on the design of the hall, under Ohga’s guidance, town officials said.

Sony will seek shareholders’ endorsement for its proposal to pay 1.6 billion yen in retirement allowances to Ohga, who quit as a board member in January, at a general shareholders’ meeting June 20, according to the officials.

Ohga served as Sony president from 1982 to 1995 and played a key role in establishing the CD format, codeveloped with Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands and introduced in 1982.

Ohga was also instrumental in facilitating Sony’s acquisition of the major U.S. record company CBS Records Inc. in 1988 and the Hollywood studio Columbia Pictures Entertainment Inc. in 1989.

They later became known as Sony Music Entertainment Inc. and Columbia Pictures Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Ohga’s association with Sony as an adviser began in April 1953, the year he graduated from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.

Two years after he graduated from the Academy of Music in Berlin in 1957, he was persuaded by Sony founder Akio Morita to join Sony at the expense of giving up his flourishing career as an opera singer.

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