USC life trustee Toshiaki Ogasawara, publisher and former chairman of The Japan Times and a leading advocate of international cooperation in trade, science and the arts, died of heart failure Nov. 30 at Hoag Hospital Newport Beach. He was 85.
Founded in 1897, The Japan Times is Japan’s oldest English-language newspaper. Ogasawara was named chairman of the board of the paper’s publisher, Japan Times Ltd., in 1985, and served as the company’s president from 1983 to 2006. He stepped down from his role as chairman earlier this year.
“Toshiaki Ogasawara served on USC’s Board of Trustees with tremendous distinction for a remarkable 21 years, and played a crucial role in the university’s efforts to build enduring partnerships in the Pacific Rim, particularly in his native Japan,” said USC President C. L. Max Nikias. “Tosh was a dear friend and visionary leader, and the USC community will certainly miss his wise counsel, thoughtful guidance and warm support.”
After graduating from the Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton University in 1966, Ogasawara became the founding president of Nifco Inc., now a leading manufacturer of industrial plastic parts and components for the automobile and electronic industries operating 38 plants in 17 different countries. He became Nifco’s chairman in 2001.
He also served as chairman of Simmons Co. Ltd., the Asian arm of Simmons Bedding Co. Over the course of his career, Ogasawara served as adviser to Bank of America, Avon Products, General Electric, Prudential and Nike, among others. He was a member of the Board of Governors of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Ogasawara was active in a number of international associations committed to promoting international exchange, including Youth for Understanding, United World Colleges, the Pacific Forum Center for Strategic & International Studies, the Japan Center for International Exchange and the Japan-America Society of Tokyo.
He served on the advisory boards of the Japan Opera Promotion Society and the Tokyo Philharmonic Association, and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Society.
A member of the USC Board of Trustees since 1995, Ogasawara played an instrumental role in organizing USC’s Global Conferences, which are held approximately every two years in various locations in Asia. The conferences have the goal of bringing together academic and business experts from both sides of the Pacific to exchange ideas, renew connections and forge relationships. Ogasawara helped organize the first such conference, which took place in Hong Kong in fall 2001. He also served on the steering committee for the 2004 conference in Seoul, South Korea, where he chaired a panel on “Japan’s New Economy for Foreign Investors,” and participated in the 2007 conference in Tokyo.
In recognition of his contributions to USC, the university named Ogasawara Plaza, an outdoor gathering space next to the Parkside International Residential College, in his honor.
Ogasawara is survived by his two children, Mitsutaka and Yukiko.