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Shoichi Saba

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Biography

Dr. Shoichi Saba, son of a Presbyterian minister and the daughter of a church elder, was born on February 28, 1919. Saba spent his early childhood, and most of his adult years as a resident of Tokyo, leaving only from 1956-7 to serve as a representative of Toshiba to General Electric in Schenectady, New York . He graduated from the University of Tokyo in December 1941 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. With the encouragement of a faculty member, after graduation, Saba accepted a position at the Toshiba Corporation. He would only work for a short twenty days in the laboratory however, before he was called to active service in the Army February 1st, 1942. During his life, Saba served in a number of different organizations in Japan. He was: the Chairman of the Japan Machinery Foundation known today as the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association; Vice Chairman for the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations; Chairman of the National Board of Governors, National Association, Boy Scouts of Nippon; Chairman of the Japan Machinery Federation; and Counselor to the Bank of Japan.

He is most remembered though, by his tenure as president of Toshiba during one of its most tumultuous periods. During his seven year tenure as first president and then chairman, he helped see Toshiba grow into the world’s leading supplier of supplier, as well as brought portable computers to the consumer market. In the wake of international scandal surrounding the sale of technology that helped Soviet submarines avoid detection 1987 however, Saba, then chairman, as well as then President Sugiichiro Watari, resigned from their official posts; though they remained with the company as consultants.

He later became President and CEO, Chairman of the Board and Executive Officer, Adviser to the Board, and Special Consultant the International Christian University (ICU). At ICU, he became a member of the Board of Councilors in 1986, a Trustee in 1987, Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees from 1988, and Chairman for 12 years from 1992 to 2004. He was conferred with the distinction of honorary doctor of letters in 2009. Saba’s achievements extend beyond Japan as well. He was named a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Science; a fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers & Commerce; and a foreign associate to America’s National Academy of Engineering.

Saba died September 2012, at the age of 93.

Further Reading

Shoichi Saba Oral History