ASICS Corporation ( has announced the death of its chairman Kihachiro Onitsuka at age 89. Onitsuka passed away Saturday, 29th September of heart failure in a hospital in Kobe, Japan.

Onitsuka was born on May 29, 1918, in Tottori Prefecture in western Japan. Concerned at the sight of the nation’s youth after World War II, he made it his mission to inspire young people and chose the world of sports as a means to fulfill his goal.

In 1949, he started Onitsuka Co. Ltd., the first sports shoe company in Japan. Using many creative ideas, he released innovative and ground-breaking products. In 1977, ASICS Corporation was formed through a merger of Onitsuka Co. Ltd, G.T.O. Co., an equipment manufacturer, and Jelenk Co., a sports apparel manufacturer. Onitsuka became the president and aimed to diversify the business to be more competitive on the global sporting goods market.

In 1992, he became chairman of ASICS Corporation, a position he held until his passing this past weekend. Today ASICS is the fifth largest sports goods manufacturer, making products not only for Olympic Gold medalists, but also ordinary people who do sports to keep up a healthy lifestyle.

Over the years, Onitsuka also held a number of public offices. He presided over the Japan Basketball Association as its president; he was the lifetime honorary president of the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry.

He received the Order of the Sacred Treasure (1988), Medal with Blue Ribbon (1974), and Medal with Dark Blue Ribbon (1978, 1983). In 2001, he received the Olympic Order.

Onitsuka also wrote a number of books. His works include My personal history (1992), and All you need to do after falling down is to stand up again (2000).

“All of the ASICS employees and friends will miss this great man dearly, but we will continue to foster his dream for this brand,” states Seiho Gohashi, CEO and Chairman, ASICS America Corporation.