• Kyodo News

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Yanase & Co. Honorary Chairman Jiro Yanase, who pioneered the auto import business in Japan, died Thursday of pneumonia at a Tokyo hospital, his family said. He was 91.

Yanase, who remained at the helm of the imported car dealership for over half a century, was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in the United States in 2004.

Born the second son of Chotaro Yanase, who founded Yanase, Jiro Yanase joined the company in 1939 and became president in 1945. He assumed the honorary chairmanship in 2002.

In picking Yanase as one of the 2004 class of eight inductees, the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Mich., said he had a “profound impact on Japan’s automotive industry by providing the initial entrance into the Japanese market for many American and European automakers.”

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