The HamburgAmbassadors are mourning Seinosuke Kuraku, who died on July 16, 2018 aged 81 years in Osaka, Japan. As a mediator between cultures and a successful communicator, Seinosuke Kuraku made a major contribution to deepening and further developing the town twinning between Hamburg and his native Osaka – and not only since his appointment as HamburgAmbassador in 2005.
Wrote 25 years of company history
Seinosuke Kuraku came to Hamburg in 1961. Matsushita Electric, Japan’s largest electronics company at the time, had sent the 24-year-old to Hamburg to explore the opportunities for expansion into Germany. Kuraku recognized the potential of the German market, which he subsequently managed to conquer despite some prejudices against supposedly poor Japanese quality. When he returned to Japan in 1986, he had transformed a two-man office into a branch with around 1,400 employees, which generated annual sales of around half a billion euros in Germany – now under the Panasonic brand.
Employee retention as individual as possible
His success earned him the title “Mr. Panasonic” from Hamburg, and the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. The award is presented for outstanding achievements in the political, economic, cultural, intellectual or voluntary fields. When, in the course of the company’s growth, he could no longer maintain personal contact with every single employee, he wrote a small letter every month about the similarities between the Japanese and Germans and attached it to the pay slips – an open-minded approach between the cultures was of great concern to him.
“Whatever you do, it must come from the heart.”
Seinosuke Kuraku summarized his findings about Germany in 1986 in his book “Die Heimat des Herzens. Experiences and reflections of a Japanese man in Germany”. After leaving Hamburg, the lover of Goethe, Hesse, Beethoven and Brahms, first worked in Japan, but returned to Europe in 1993 beginning as Managing Director of Siemens Matsushita Components GmbH in Munich, and then from 1994 to 1998 as CEO of Matsushita Electric HQ Europe Ltd, now Panasonic Europe Ltd. His life motto was, according to Goethe: “Whatever you do, it must come from the heart.”