Ex-Saison Group head Seiji Tsutsumi dies at 86

Kyodo

Seiji Tsutsumi, former head of the Saison Group retail chain, died of liver failure at a Tokyo hospital Monday, the Saison Foundation said Thursday. He was 86.

Tsutsumi, head of the foundation, is known as a poet, novelist, essayist and commentator under the names of Takashi Tsujii and Ikuo Yokose.

He was the son of the founder of Seibu Railway Co., Yasujiro Tsutsumi (1889-1964), who once served as speaker of the Lower House. Tsutsumi’s half-brother, Yoshiaki, 79, was the former head of the Seibu Railway group.

Tsutsumi won many awards for his works, including “Niji no misaki” (“Rainbow Cape”) and “Chichi no Shozo” (“Portrait of My Father”).

He once headed Seibu Department Stores Ltd., which is now part of Sogo & Seibu Co. under Seven & I Holdings Co., operator of the Ito-Yokado supermarket and 7-Eleven convenience store chains.

Tsutsumi, who was a member of the Japan Art Academy, was chosen as a person of cultural merit in 2012.

While he was a student at the University of Tokyo, Tsutsumi was involved in the left-wing student movement.

After serving as a secretary to his father, Tsutsumi entered Seibu Department Stores in 1954 and assumed the presidency in 1966. He established the Seiyu supermarket chain and headed the Saison Group.

In 1988, the Saison Group purchased one of the world’s biggest hotel chains, Intercontinental, for about ¥280 billion, but sold it in 1998. He quit the Saison Group helm in 1991 after group firms suffered damage when the bubble economy burst.