Keiichi Ishizaka, one of the most important music industry executives in the rise of international repertoire in Japan, passed away on Dec. 31 at the age of 71.
Ishizaka is remembered for his tireless promoting of the Beatles with Toshiba EMI, which he joined in 1968, and his relentless efforts to promote British and American rock in Japan, including T-Rex and Pink Floyd.
Ishizaka became managing director of Toshiba EMI in 1991, president of Polygram (Japan) in 1994 and president and CEO of Universal Music Corporation (Japan) in 2001 (he was later upped to chairman in 2006). His last top executive position was as CEO of Warner Music Japan from 2011-2014. He was also chairman of the Recording Industry Association of Japan from 2007-2011.
He is also known for forging the careers of Japanese rock band Boowy, rocker Eikichi Yazawa and idol singer Yumi Matsutoya. Under his tenure, Universal Music Japan grabbed the largest share of the physical market in Japan.
Ishizaka received a Medal of Honor from the Japanese government in 2009 and the Order of the Rising Sun in 2015, generally the highest order given by the government to non-politicians or heads of state.