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Kōnosuke Matsushita

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Kōnosuke Matsushita
松下 幸之助
Black and white portrait. Head shot of Matsushita in front of a dark background, wearing a dark suit jacket with a light wing-collared shirt, dark vest, and dark striped necktie.
Matsushita in 1929
Born(1894-11-27)27 November 1894
Died27 April 1989(1989-04-27) (aged 94)
Other namesGod of Management
Occupation(s)Businessman and industrialist
Known forFounder of Panasonic
SpouseMumeno Matsushita
RelativesMasaharu Matsushita (son-in-law)
Japanese name
Kanji松下 幸之助

Kōnosuke Matsushita (松下 幸之助, Matsushita Kōnosuke, 27 November 1894 – 27 April 1989) was a Japanese industrialist who founded Panasonic, the largest Japanese consumer electronics company. Matsushita is referred to as the "God of Management" in Japan.[2][3][4][5][6]


Matsushita and the wife of a bicycle shop owner. Matsushita worked in the shop. (c. 1904–5)

Kōnosuke Matsushita was born on 27 November 1894 in Wasamura is now part of Wakayama Prefecture. His father was an affluent landlord in the farming village of Wasa (part of present-day Wakayama city) and was one of the wealthiest men of his community.

Teenage years[edit]

Shortly after Matsushita left school, he was sent away to Osaka to become an apprentice for a hibachi store. Less than a year into his apprenticeship however, the business failed and Matsushita was left looking for other employment. He then applied for a job with the Osaka Electric Light Company, an electrical utility company. Over the next couple of years, he was promoted several times and his position rose with the company. During this time, Matsushita was introduced to one of his sister's friends, Mumeno Iue, and after a short courtship married her. Matsushita, now head of a new family, was well aware of his new responsibilities.

At the age of 22, he was promoted to the position of electrical inspector. It was during this time that Matsushita attempted to introduce his boss to the invention of a new and improved light socket that he had perfected in his spare time. His boss, however, was not enthusiastic.

Matsushita Electric Industrial Company[edit]

Members of Matsushita Electric Housewares Manufacturing Works. Back row from left, Kōnosuke Matsushita, Toshio Iue, Mumeno Matsushita (c. 1918)

In 1917, Matsushita left Osaka Electric Light Company to set up his own company. Without capital, a formal education, or experience in manufacturing, it would appear the company would fail before it even began. He set up his shop in the basement of his tenement. With his wife, his brother-in-law, and several assistants, he began creating several samples of his product. He attempted to peddle the samples to wholesalers but was unsuccessful because he did not offer more than one product.

Matsushita's assistants left his company and he was left with only his wife and brother-in-law, Toshio Iue, who proved to be a capable salesman and manager. Matsushita would have eventually become bankrupt but he was "saved by an unexpected order for a thousand insulator plates for electric fans."[7] From there, Matsushita was able to continue producing his light sockets. They became popular as wholesalers realized the product was better in quality and less expensive than comparable products in the market. The early years of the company were difficult: he once had to pawn his wife's kimono when he found himself short on money. Matsushita's products were originally marketed under the name brand of "National" and later moved on to the more recognizable names of Panasonic, Quasar and Technics.[citation needed]

One of Matsushita's best products was his invention of a more efficient battery-powered bicycle lamp. During the 1920s, bicycle lamps were candles or oil-burning lamps. They were highly inefficient as they usually only lasted for three hours. He created an oval lamp that used a battery for power and a lightbulb for illumination. He had to personally market his products to retail bicycle shops.


Matsushita learned a very important lesson in terms of growing a company while he was trying to introduce his bicycle lamp to wholesalers. He realized that even if he had a product that was superior to anything out in the market it would not matter if he could not sell the product. As a result, Matsushita began devising ways to create sales channels for his products by concentrating less on manufacturing and more on building a sales force, which led to a retail store network and finally placed Matsushita's company on the map in Japan's electrical manufacturing and retail industry.

In 1929, he began setting up a new structure for his company. The company was structured as a parent company and branches of divisions that specialized in a particular product were created. There were three specific products that were being created in Matsushita's company at this time: the bicycle lamp and battery division, the electrical socket division, and the radio division. For each of these products, a national sales department was formed with regional offices established in strategic locations. These regional offices were responsible for the coordination of sales and manufacturing. Products were manufactured based upon the demand for the products. As a result, manufacturing was dependent on sales.

Post-war period[edit]

During the US occupation of Japan after World War II, General Douglas MacArthur decided to break up the zaibatsu business conglomerates of Japan. Matsushita was in danger of being removed as president but was saved by a favorable petition signed by 15,000 employees. In 1947, Kōnosuke lent his brother-in-law Toshio to an underused manufacturing plant to manufacture bicycle lamps, a business that eventually became Sanyo Electric.

From 1950 to 1973, Matsushita's company became one of the world's largest manufacturers of electrical goods, sold under well-known trademarks including Panasonic and Technics. Matsushita stepped down as President of Panasonic in 1961 and was succeeded as president by his son-in-law, Masaharu Matsushita.[8] Konosuke Matsushita's two grandsons are Masayuki Matsushita, who is the current vice-chairman of Panasonic, and Hiro Matsushita, who is a former driver in the Champ Car series and owns Swift Engineering, an aerospace firm and race car constructing company which he bought in 1991. Hiro Matsushita is also the chairman of Swift Xi [ja], which is located in Kobe, Japan.

Konosuke Matsushita remained active in Panasonic's operations until his complete retirement in 1973. Since 1954, Matsushita also gained a significant shareholding in manufacturer JVC by forming an alliance. It still retains a 50% share today. In retirement, Matsushita focused on developing and explaining his social and commercial philosophies and wrote 44 published books. One of his books, entitled "Developing A Road To Peace And Happiness Through Prosperity", sold over four million copies. In 1979, at the age of 84, he founded the Matsushita School of Government and Management [ja] to train the future politicians and businessmen of Japan.

In 1987, he was awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers.[9]


Chronic lung problems led to his death from pneumonia on 27 April 1989, at the age of 94. He died with personal assets worth US$3 billion, and left a company with US$42 billion in revenue business.[citation needed]

Awards and honours[edit]

Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty presenting a certificate proclaiming 15 July as Matsushita Day to Kōnosuke and Mumeno at Los Angeles City Hall. Kōnosuke is holding a nine-inch Panasonic television, a gift to Los Angeles. (1963)

National honours[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]

Professorships and Directorships[edit]

Konosuke Matsushita was honoured at Stanford University by endowing a Professorship in International Strategy and Management. The official name of the course is The Konosuke Matsushita Professorship in International Strategy and Management[12][13]

Published books[edit]

  • Michi wo hiraku (1968) Open the path and often translated as The Path
  • Japan at the Brink (1976)
  • Thoughts on Man (1982)
  • Not for Bread Alone: A Business Ethos, A Management Ethic (1984)
  • Quest for Prosperity (1988)
  • As I See It (1989)
  • Velvet Glove, Iron Fist: And 101 Other Dimensions of Leadership (1991)
  • People before Products: The Human Factor in Business (1992)
  • The Matsushita Perspective: A Business Philosophy Handbook (1997)
  • The Heart of Management: Konosuke Matsushita's Enduring Insights (2002)
  • My Way of Life and Thinking (2011) (Originally published in 1954)
  • Practical Management Philosophy (2011) (Originally published in 1978)
  • Nurturing Dreams – My Path in Life – An Autobiography by the Founder of Panasonic (2014) (Originally published in 1998)

Appears on the cover of[edit]

  • Life, Sep-1964, DETAILS: Meet Mr. Matsushita
  • Time, 23 February 1962, DETAILS: Industrialist Matsushita [14]

Further reading[edit]

  • Matsushita Leadership by John Paul Kotter, Simon & Schuster (1998)
  • Matsushita Konosuke (1894–1989) His Life & His Legacy: A Collection of Essays in Honor of the Centenary of His Birth by Kōnosuke Matsushita, PHP Research Institute (1994)
  • The Matsushita Perspective, A Business Philosophy Handbook, Published by PHP Institute, Inc. (1st ed., 1997).
  • Jinsei mondō, dialogue with Daisaku Ikeda published in Chinese (traditional), Chinese (simplified), Korean, and Japanese; Published by Ushio Shuppansha, Tōkyō (1st ed., 1975).
  • The Matsushita Phenomenon by Rowland Gould published by the Diamond Publishing Company, Japan (1st edition, 1970).
  • The Path, by Konosuke Matsushita, Published by McGraw-Hill (2010)
  • Konosuke Matsushita Memorial Foundation[15]

Matsushita family tree[edit]

Matsushita Uemon
Yasuda KoichiroTokue MatsushitaMasakusu MatsushitaHirata TosukeMaeda Toshiaki
Mitsui Takamine10th head of the Mitsui family
Tetsujiro NakaoYasueJun IueYurou IueToshio IueMumenoKōnosuke MatsushitaHirata ShodoShizukoMaeda ToshisadaKeikoMitsui Takakimi11th head of the Mitsui family
Satoshi IueMatsushita SachikoMasaharu MatsushitaHirata KatsumiNobuko
Iue ToshimasaHiro MatsushitaMasayuki Matsushita

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Decorated Commander in the Order of Orange-Nassau by the Queen of the Netherlands: in 1958 at age 63".
  2. ^ "The "God of Management" Explained How to Practice the Spirit of Capitalism". The Liberty. 3 February 2005. Retrieved 24 September 2021.
  3. ^ Kotter, John P. (1997). Matsushita Leadership : lessons from the 20th century's most remarkable entrepreneur. New York: Free Press. ISBN 0-684-83460-X. OCLC 35620432.
  4. ^ Matsushita konosuke keiei no kamisama to yobareta otoko. Yasutoshi Kita, 康利 北. Pieichipikenkyujo. May 2014. ISBN 978-4-569-76176-3. OCLC 884755550.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  5. ^ Matsushita kōnosuke ni manabu jinseiron = Peace and happiness through prosperity : Keiei no kamisama ga kataru jinsei tenmei uchū. Fumihiko Iida, 史彦 飯田. Tōkyō: PHP Kenkyūjo. 2008. ISBN 978-4569704821. OCLC 1035905608.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  6. ^ Zhou, Lixia (2017). Konosuke Matsushita, the God of Management. [Place of publication not identified]. ISBN 978-7-5451-4195-5. OCLC 1152281546.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  7. ^ "Panasonic History: Setting up his own company)". 2009. Archived from the original on 1 June 2009. Retrieved 17 August 2009.
  8. ^ Kageyama, Yuri (17 July 2012). "Former Panasonic president Matsushita dies". Associated Press. Retrieved 18 July 2012.[dead link]
  9. ^ Matsushita Memorial Library.
  10. ^ "Semakan Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat".
  11. ^ An, Baijie; Cao, Desheng (19 December 2018). "10 foreigners given medals for roles in reform, opening-up". China Daily.
  12. ^ "Stanford Endowed Professorships and Directorships". Standford.
  13. ^ "Konosuke Matsushita's Humanistic Management". Springer Nature.
  14. ^ "Industrialist Matsushita". Times.
  15. ^ http://matsushita-konosuke-zaidan.or.jp/en/ Konosuke Matsushita Memorial Foundation

External links[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by
President of Panasonic
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Chairman of Osaka Industrial Association
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Chairman of Kyoto International Conference Center
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chairman of Ise Grand Shrine
Succeeded by