EDITORIAL: In the passing of a Nintendo president, a visionary lost

The Asian community lost a powerful visionary on Sept. 19, when former Nintendo President and Mariners owner Hiroshi Yamauchi passed away. But while now he is gone, he leaves behind a legacy that many can learn from. His ambition, willingness to buck tradition, and humility are all wonderful models for the APA community.

Yamauchi became one of the richest men in Japan by working hard, starting early, and being open to new ideas. He became president of Nintendo, then a playing card manufacturing company, in 1949 at the age of 22, and worked tirelessly to instill confidence in his leadership.

He had the vision to see that playing-card manufacturing was a small market and attempted to diversify the company, opening hotels, a taxi service, and producing instant rice. While many of the endeavors failed, Yamauchi continued to look for opportunities, eventually striking it big by producing complex toys.

Despite his successes, he continued to look for ways to grow. As electronic and video games began to become popular, he drove the company to work on them. He expanded the company to the United States and, when much of the video game sector had crashed in the late 1970s, Yamauchi still saw potential. In 1983, the Famicom, the console that would become the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), debuted in Japan, helping to save the video game industry.

Though a shrewd businessman, Yamauchi was also very generous and humble. In the early 1990s, Yamauchi bought the Seattle Mariners to keep the team in Seattle, despite reluctance from the league about having a foreigner owner and never before attending a baseball game. Even as an owner, he eschewed the spotlight and chose not to see his team play, eventually transferring most of his ownership to Nintendo of America.

He also knew when to leave and put the success of his company before that of himself. After retiring, he refused his pension, believing that Nintendo could put it to better use.

Generous and shrewd, Yamauchi was a true visionary. His hard work and openness did great things and the community should strive to live as he did. (end)

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