Masatake Matsuda, former president of East Japan Railway Co. and promoter of the April 1987 privatization of the Japanese National Railways, died of liver cancer last Tuesday, it was learned on Monday. He was 84.

Matsuda, who joined the JNR in 1961, became an executive of JR East in 1987. The breakup and privatization of the state-owned enterprise created JR East and other Japan Railways Group companies.

Matsuda assumed the positions of JR East president in 1993 and chairman in 2000. He later became consultant at the company and then served as its adviser from 2011.

While he was working for the JNR, Matsuda was known as one of the three key figures who promoted the reform of the entity. The other two were Yoshiyuki Kasai, former president of Central Japan Railway Co., and Masataka Ide, former president of West Japan Railway Co.

At JR East, Matsuda blazed a path toward its re-development projects at and around major train stations, the launch of distribution businesses and the introduction of the Suica e-money and train fare card.

Even after JR East went public in 1993 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Matsuda continued to urge the government to sell off its remaining holdings of shares in the railway operator to realize its full privatization.

Matsuda also worked as a member of a government panel for the privatization of expressway operators and served as leader of the Japan Amateur Baseball Association.

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