Nissan CEO History


© History Oasis


© History Oasis

  • Yoshisuke Aikawa (1928-1939)
  • Masasuke Murakami (1939-1945)
  • Yutaka Katayama (1960-1977)
  • Takashi Ishihara (1977-1985)
  • Yoshifumi Tsuji (1992-1996)
  • Yoshikazu Hanawa (1996-2000)
  • Carlos Ghosn (2000-2017)
  • Hiroto Saikawa (2017-2019)
  • Makoto Uchida (2019-present)


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Yoshisuke Aikawa, a key figure in Nissan's early history, became the company's president in 1928 after working at Kuhara Mining Company.

He changed the company's name to Nihon Sangyo (Nissan) and oversaw mergers and acquisitions to establish the Nissan Konzern conglomerate.

In 1933, Aikawa organized the establishment of Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. in Yokohama, with Nihon Sangyo as the main shareholder.

Under his leadership, Nissan became the largest car producer in Asia among companies financed with Japanese capital by 1937.


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During Masasuke Murakami's tenure, Nissan continued to grow as a major Japanese automaker, expanding its production capabilities and product lineup, with annual production surpassing 10,000 units by 1937.

Under Murakami's leadership, Nissan also began exporting cars to other countries, albeit in relatively small volumes, marking the company's early steps toward international expansion.


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Yutaka Katayama, known as "Mr. K," is widely regarded as the "father of the Datsun Z."

Katayama joined Nissan in 1935, where he pioneered innovative marketing techniques, and in 1960, he was sent to Los Angeles to establish Nissan's presence in the United States.

Under his leadership, Katayama launched the successful Datsun 510 sedan in 1967 and the iconic Datsun 240Z sports car in 1970, which marked a turning point for the brand in the U.S. market.

Katayama's vision and charismatic personality transformed the perception of Japanese cars in America, building Datsun into a sales powerhouse.


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Takashi Ishihara played a crucial role in transforming the company into a global automotive powerhouse.

After joining Nissan in 1937, Ishihara launched an aggressive export strategy in 1957, leading Nissan to become the first Japanese automaker to rank among the top 10 in U.S. car imports by 1964.

As president, he helped establish Nissan's first overseas plants in the United States and Britain, paving the way for the company's multinational operations and contributing to Japan's rise as the world's largest auto producer during his tenure.

Ishihara's legacy includes signing the agreement for the construction of Nissan's car plant in the United Kingdom in 1984.


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During his tenure as President, Yoshifumi Tsuji faced the daunting task of saving the company from impending bankruptcy.

With Nissan's consolidated debt reaching $32 billion and total shareholders' equity at only $12.6 billion by March 1994, Tsuji implemented drastic cost-cutting measures, including closing Nissan's first Japanese car plant in half a century and offering early retirement to thousands of workers.

These efforts, along with the yen's depreciation against the dollar, helped Nissan report a consolidated profit of around $500 million in fiscal 1996, after losing $3.2 billion between fiscal 1992 and 1995.

Tsuji's leadership during this critical period laid the foundation for Nissan's eventual turnaround and alliance with Renault in 1999.


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Yoshikazu Hanawa played a crucial role in navigating the company through a challenging period and forging the Renault-Nissan Alliance.

Joining Nissan in 1957, Hanawa recognized the need for major changes to address the company's lack of profitability and momentum during the 1980s and 1990s.

In March 1999, he signed an agreement with Renault, allowing the French automaker to take a controlling 37% stake in Nissan and bringing in Carlos Ghosn as COO to help turn the company around.

Hanawa supported the Nissan Revival Plan, drafted by Ghosn and a team of managers, which aimed to cut costs, reduce debt, and divest assets.


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Carlos Ghosn is credited with orchestrating a remarkable turnaround of the company.

Faced with Nissan's dire financial situation, including over $20 billion in debt and only 3 profitable models out of 46, Ghosn swiftly implemented his "Nissan Revival Plan."

This plan involved drastic measures such as cutting 21,000 jobs, closing 5 Japanese plants, reducing suppliers and cross-shareholdings, selling off assets, and making significant structural changes to the company's promotion and employment practices.

Despite the controversial nature of these actions, Ghosn delivered on his promises, with Nissan returning to profitability in fiscal year 2000, achieving a 4.9% operating margin, and reducing its net automotive debt by 69% by 2002.

However, Ghosn's time at Nissan came to an abrupt end in November 2018 when he was arrested on charges of financial misconduct.


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Hiroto Saikawa held various senior management positions at Nissan, including Co-Chief Executive Officer from November 2016 to April 2017, Chairman of the Management Committees of the Americas and Europe, Executive Vice President of Purchasing, and Chief Competitive Officer from April 2013 to October 2016.

During his tenure as CEO, Nissan faced significant challenges, including the arrest of Carlos Ghosn in November 2018 on charges of financial misconduct, which led Saikawa to express disappointment and concern over the concentration of power in Ghosn's hands.

However, in September 2019, an internal investigation revealed that Saikawa had received excess compensation amounting to around $900,000 due to falsified documents, prompting his resignation as CEO on September 16, 2019.


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Makoto Uchida took over as CEO of Nissan Motor Corporation in December 2019, succeeding Hiroto Saikawa amidst a period of management turmoil following the arrest of former chairman Carlos Ghosn on allegations of financial misconduct.

As CEO, Uchida reaffirmed the importance of Nissan's alliance with Renault and pledged to prioritize transparency and restore the company's credibility, acknowledging the severe challenges Nissan faced due to declining sales and profits.

He sought to address issues such as unrealistic targets and a corporate culture that stifled open communication, while also reviewing the "Nissan Way" outlined by his predecessors.

However, in 2023, Uchida faced new allegations of misconduct, with claims that he had conducted surveillance on Nissan's Chief Operating Officer, Ashwani Gupta, who had questioned the revised agreement with Renault.

These allegations, along with internal disagreements, further contributed to the instability within Nissan, presenting Uchida with the ongoing challenge of navigating the company through turbulent times and restoring its reputation and financial stability.