|Born||1945/1946 (age 67–68)|
|Occupation||Director and Chairman of Benesse Holdings|
|Net worth|| US $ 1.4 billion (est.)
Soichiro Fukutake Soichiro Fukutake (福武總一郎 Fukutake Sōichirō , b. about 1945) is the eldest son of Tetsuhiko Fukutake, the founder of Fukutake Publishing Co., Ltd. (now Benesse Corporation and Benesse Holdings, Inc.). Born in Okayama Prefecture, Soichiro Fukutake graduated from the School of Science and Engineering, Waseda University. After working for Nissei Sangyo Co., Ltd., he joined Fukutake Publishing in 1973.
In 1986, the sudden death of his father, the president of Fukutake Publishing at that time, brought Fukutake from the Tokyo office to the Okayama headquarters. In the beginning, he was at a loss about the drastic changes in his living environment, but in a few months he came to feel really happy about not living in Tokyo. In the meantime, he gradually began to see Tokyo as a city lacking humanity as there is little that is historical or natural in Tokyo. His return to his hometown Okayama influenced him so much that he changed the name of the company to “Benesse” (which means “well-being”) a few years later.
As part of Benesse Corporation’s activities to support arts and culture, he opened the Benesse House Museum, which was designed by the architect Tadao Ando in 1992. In 2004, Fukutake used his own money to establish the Naoshima Fukutake Art Museum Foundation, which assisted with the openings of the Chichu Art Museum in 2004 and the Lee Ufan Museum in 2010. This series of Benesse Art Site Naoshima projects has caused Naoshima to be recognized inside and outside Japan as a contemporary art mecca, leading to the Setouchi International Art Festival 2010. In October 2012, he consolidated four public utility foundations into the Fukutake Foundation (which runs museums and provides financial assistance with regional development through culture and arts) and the Fukutake Education and Culture Foundation (which provides financial assistance for the promotion of education and culture in Okayama Prefecture). He is president of both foundations.
In 2008, Fukutake personally donated 1.65 billion yen to the University of Tokyo to build Fukutake Hall in its Hongo Campus. In 2009, with the aim of protecting the global environment and realizing a sustainable society, he also participated in the establishment of SIM-Drive Corporation and founded the Association for the Promotion of Electric Vehicles. He is the chairperson of both the corporation and the association. He currently lives in New Zealand.
Major past events and titles
- 1974: Head of the Tokyo branch of Fukutake Publishing
- 1976: Managing Director
- 1980: Executive Director
- 1985: Director and Vice President
- 1986: President and Representative Director after the sudden death of his father
- 1989: Establishes Naoshima International Camp
- 1992: Establishes Benesse House on Naoshima Island
- 1995: Renames Fukutake Publishing as Benesse Corporation
- 1997: Starts the Art House Project on Naoshima Island
- 2003: Chairman, Representative Director and CEO
- 2004: Establishes the Chichu Art Museum
- 2009: Resigns as Representative Director of Benesse Corporation and becomes Director and Chairman of Benesse Holdings, Inc. with a shift to a holding company system
- 2010: Establishes the Lee Ufan Art Museum on Naoshima Island and the Teshima Art Museum on Teshima Island
- 2010: Becomes the General Producer of the Setouchi International Art Festival 2010
- 2012: Reorganizes four Fukutake foundations and becomes the President of the Fukutake Foundation and the Fukutake Education and Culture Foundation
- 2013: Becomes the General Producer of the Setouchi International Art Festival 2013
Past achievements and awards
- 1991: Zaikai Management Award
- 1995: Mainichi Business Leader Award
- 1996: Nikkei Venture of the Year Award
- 2000: Iwakiri Shotaro Prize
- 2003: Culture Award from Okayama Prefecture
- 2004: Honored Townsman from Naoshima town in Kagawa Prefecture
- 2006: Honored as a Person of Cultural Merit in Kagawa Prefecture
- 2008: Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Award for Art
- 2010: Appreciation Prize of AIJ
- 2010: Second Japan Tourism Agency Commissioner Award
- 2012: Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award
Business is a message
After becoming Representative Director of Fukutake Publishing in 1986, Fukutake implemented a second CI review. Adopting a people-oriented corporate philosophy, he renamed Fukutake Publishing “Benesse” (a coinage formed by combining the Latin terms bene [well] and esse [being]). Fukutake argues a product should be an embodiment of a message for supporting people’s well-being.
Some of the key messages spread by Benesse are as follows
- “Provide the kind of high-quality services we would be happy to use ourselves and offer to our own families”
- “Make a society where growing older means growing happier”
- “Deliver services that help customers find even greater enjoyment in life the older they become”
- “Gain more fans and loyal customers who will spread the word about Benesse to their communities”
Foundation activities are based on his philosophy
Fukutake said “the economy should be a servant to culture.” This phrase reflects his anger at the destruction of local lifestyles and cultures in the post-war era, which gave the highest priority to economy and pushed for an excessive concentration of people and industry in Tokyo. He proposes a shift from modern civilization, in which we destroy what we have and create what we don’t have, to a new concept of civilization for the 21st century, in other words, “Using what exists to create what is to be.” This concept has been embodied in his activities to revitalize through arts and culture the islands of the Seto Inland Sea, which are suffering from a declining and aging population.
Soichiro Fukutake believes people can become happy by living in a good community. Seeing that more and more elderly people living on Naoshima Island enjoy interacting—through modern art—with young visitors to the island, he is certain that a happy community is a community filled with the smiles of elderly people who have an abundant knowledge of life. His activities on Naoshima Island have spread to other neighboring islands. In 2010, he produced the Setouchi International Art Festival 2010, together with Kagawa Prefecture. This festival was staged on seven islands in the Bisan-Seto sea area, and attracted as many as 940,000 visitors from both inside and outside Japan. The success of this festival paved the way for the holding of the Setouchi Triennale 2013.
- "The World's Billionaires: #721 Soichiro Fukutake". Forbes. March 3, 2010.