Sanrio Transitions to the Next Generation

Ryosuke Komori

DIVER | Kyoto

Ryosuke is a publisher who has been based in Seattle. He was born in Kyoto.

Sanrio Co., Ltd. appointed Tomokuni Tsuji as a new company president. Sanrio is the creator of Hello Kitty, the world famous kawaii character. Tomokuni, a former senior managing director at Sanrio, is a grandson of the founding president, Shintaro Tsuji. This is the first change of leadership for Sanrio since its inception.

Shintaro started a silk business in 1960 and expanded to producing a line of cute character merchandise including Hello Kitty which was released in 1974. The company was a pioneer in the character licensing business. In recent years, however, Sanrio has struggled with business in Europe and America. The company believes the transition allows them to better respond to the fast changing business environment including consumer trends.

Sanrio’s move received mixed reviews. While some highly praised the rejuvenation of the office from 92-year-old Shintaro to 31-year-old Tomokuni, others were critical about the hereditary transfer. A few observant people pointed out Tomokuni’s resemblance to Sanrio’s Pom Pom Purin. The young president himself could become the next Sanrio character.

Hello Kitty continues playing an important role to bring peace of mind to people especially in the uncertainty of the pandemic.


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