Ex-JR Tokai President Yoshiyuki Kasai dies at 81

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Yoshiyuki Kasai

TOKYO, May 27 (Jiji Press) — Yoshiyuki Kasai, former president of Central Japan Railway Co. , or JR Tokai, who played a pivotal role in reforming the former Japanese National Railways, died of interstitial pneumonia on Wednesday. He was 81.

The Tokyo native entered the former JNR in 1963 and became a board member of JR Tokai, created through the breakup and privatization of the state-owned railway operator, in 1987. He served as JR Tokai president for nine years from 1995.

After working as chairman of JR Tokai, Kasai served as the company’s honorary chairman from April 2014.

He was known as one of the three key figures who promoted the breakup and privatization of the JNR. The other two are Masatake Matsuda, the late former president of East Japan Railway Co. , or JR East, and Masataka Ide, former president of West Japan Railway Co. , or JR West.

Kasai, who was in charge of labor and personnel issues at the JNR, negotiated with labor union officials opposing the railway operator’s reform.

After becoming president of JR Tokai, he laid the groundwork for the full privatization of the company and led the project to open Shinagawa Station on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line to boost transportation capabilities.

Kasai was famous also as a conservative debater, with membership of various government committees, including the National Public Safety Commission.

He promoted the Chuo Shinkansen high-speed magnetic levitation railway project and exports of the Japanese Shinkansen system.