Takashi Ishihara rammed through two decisions that defined Nissan Motor Co. in the United States.
The brusque former rugby player championed Nissan's first U.S. assembly plant despite fierce opposition at home. And he axed the Datsun name.
“He was a man of action,” recalls Yoshikazu Hanawa, a former Nissan president, about Ishihara, who died in 2003 at age 91.
Ishihara joined Nissan in 1937, avoiding a tour of duty in World War II. In the 1960s, he was put in charge of budding exports to the United States.
In the late 1970s, though, his calls for a U.S. assembly plant met resistance in the boardroom — and from Ichiro Shioji, head of the union at Nissan.