China Reform Friendship Medal Recipient: Konosuke Matsushita, Japan's pioneer for China's modernization
Known as "the God of management" in Japan, 94-year-old Konosuke Matsushita is one of the ten foreigners who were honored with China Reform Friendship Medal for their contribution to China's reform and opening-up during an event to celebrate 40 years of the country's landmark policy in Beijing on Tuesday.
As the founder of Matsushita Electric, one of the world's largest producers of electronic home appliances, Matsushita even appeared on the cover of the Time magazine in 1963.
He was visited by many political heavyweights like the former U.S. attorney general Robert Kennedy and former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
But his story with China dates back to 1978, when Deng Xiaoping, the late Chinese leader and chief architect of China's reform and opening-up policy, went out of his way to meet Matsushita during his visit to Japan.
Marveled at the modernity that Japan had achieved in 40 years after recovering from its defeat in WWII, Deng invited Matsushita to join China's modernization wave after touring a fully automated workshop in Matsushita's color television factory.
The successful businessman accepted the invitation and promised to do more. "I'll do my best to help you," Matsushita told Deng.
The picture tube factory he established in Beijing, which produced the core component of color TVs, offered the Chinese people a new window to a colorful world.
He persuaded other Japanese electronics tycoons to follow his suit and make investments on the then immature land.
Today, China is Panasonic's global manufacturing hub. The joint venture in Beijing was a cornerstone of its subsequent strategy and led to the establishment of 79 factories in China employing nearly 60,000 people. These plants rang up 50 billion yuan (7.4 billion U.S. dollars) in sales last year.
Panasonic has poured huge resources into these factories, producing consumer products, setting up research and development departments and coming up with a business-to-business strategy, which set a good example for multinational companies operating in China.