Former Nissan Motor Co. President Yoshikazu Hanawa, who steered a major turnaround for the automaker, died last Friday of a heart attack, the company said. He was 81.
A native of Tokyo, Hanawa went to work for Nissan in 1957 after graduating from the University of Tokyo and assumed the post of president in 1996. When the company was facing difficulties in 1999, Hanawa succeeded in forming an alliance with French automaker Renault S.A.
He went on to pave the way for Nissan’s current success, including bringing in Renault’s Carlos Ghosn to become his successor as Nissan president in June 2000 following an equity tie-up.
In a statement Tuesday, Ghosn praised Hanawa as “an important part of the Nissan family and at the heart of the alliance foundation.” Hanawa, he said, “was an inspiration across Japan and important contributor to the world’s automotive industry.”
Hanawa doubled as president and chairman from June 1999 and served as chairman from June 2000. In 2003, he receded from the front line to become adviser and honorary chairman after seeing the company recover and return to a growth track.
Hanawa died in a hospital in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture.