Mutsutake Otsuka

President and chief executive officer, East Japan Railway Company

Nationality: Japanese.

Born: January 5, 1932, in Beijing, China.

Education: Tokyo University, received degree, 1965.

Career: Japan National Railways, 1965–1987, various positions; East Japan National Railway Company (JR East), 1987–1997, managing director; 1997–2000, vice president; 2000–, president and chief executive officer.

Address: JR East, 2-2, Yoyogi 2-chome, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 151-8578, Japan;

■ In 2000 Mutsutake Otsuka, the son of a Southern Manchuria Railway executive, became president and chief executive officer of East Japan Railway Company (JR East), the largest railway company in the world. Otsuka joined Japan National Railways in 1965. Following a loss of $14 billion in 1985, Japan National Railways was privatized and divided, which led to the establishment of JR East in 1987. Otsuka became the managing director of the new firm. Privatization enabled Japan's railroads to employ fewer workers and charge lower fares. Otsuka was a hands-on manager who took a close interest in the completion of projects. He also had an eye for future innovations for JR East. "In today's business world, management must plan in several time frames at once," he said in . "And you need to roll forward your goals to absorb the impact of new conditions and technologies."

To further increase passengers and revenue, Otsuka looked to foreign tourists. "Only five million tourists visit Japan annually, about one-third the number of Japanese visiting abroad," he said ( ). To increase tourism, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport began a campaign aimed at doubling the number of foreign tourists who visited Japan by 2010, and Otsuke expected that these tourists would also become railway users.

Otsuka also initiated a plan to make JR East a leading provider of services by transforming railway stations into centers for shopping, dining, and other leisure activities. In 2002 Union East became the first of the stations to be renovated and expanded. Otsuka planned to renovate the Tokyo station by 2010; the plans included restoring the station to its original three-story design, renovating the plaza in front of the station, and adding a shopping center and office-building complex.

Other innovations from Otsuka included the Suica, a smart card that functioned as an electronic train pass. Instead of waiting in line at a ticket machine, a person could get to the train by simply touching their Suica card to the gate. The card was designed to reduce the number of ticket offices, vending machines, and employees. Otsuka said that it would promote spontaneous and use of trains.

Environmental concerns also were a component of Otsuka's strategy. JR East announced a plan to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 2006 to 80 percent of their 1990 levels. He also pursued mergers and acquisitions; in 2002 JR East acquired Orangepage, a magazine publisher that collects and analyzes consumer trend statistics and information, as well as Tokyo Monorail.

See also entry on East Japan Railway Company in International Directory of Company Histories .

sources for further information

Nikkei kaisha jinmeiroku (Nikkei Who's Who of Corporate Executives and Managers), Tokyo, Nihon Keizai Shinbunsha.

"Otsuka to Become President of JR East," Jiji Press English News Service (Tokyo), April 25, 2000, p. 1.

"Working on the New Frontier: Mutsutake Otsuka," , .

—Lucy Heckman

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