A major supporter and long-time benefactor of FUTI, the honorary chairman of Seven & i Holdings, Mr. Masatoshi Ito, has passed away of old age on March 10, 2023 at the age of 98, just a month short of his 99th birthday. As the founding director of the Ito Foundation U.S.A., he generously donated every year to FUTI, and has become a “pillar” of the FUTI mid- to long-term study program since establishing the Ito Foundation U.S.A.-FUTI Scholarship in 2016. Looking back at how his daily life was filled with vigor even in his advanced age, we realize what an extraordinary person he was. We would like to honor him with thoughts and prayers filled with heartfelt gratitude.
In Japan, Mr. Ito was also founding chairman of the Ito Scholarship Foundation which helped many high school students go to college, and college students to continue on to graduate school through its scholarship programs.
Mr. Ito was born in Tokyo in 1924. While Japan was a poor nation at the time, he received support from his relatives, which helped to fund his education at a technical school of commerce. He was grateful of the support as he believed that the education gave him the drive to advance his life and career. As a sign of gratitude, he established a foundation to support advanced education using the assets he gained from his business successes.
After the Second World War, his involvement in the family business, a clothing store in Kitasenjyu called Yokado, led to its expansion through the motto, “A business that will make customers happy”. In 1958, he became the president of Yokado, later to become the publicly traded retail giant, Ito-Yokado. After showing interest in the American convenience chain store, 7-Eleven, Mr. Ito opened in 1973 Japan’s first convenience store, Yōkusebun, which later became Japan’s largest convenience chain, 7-Eleven Japan. In 1991, Ito-Yokado bought out 7-Eleven from its American parent company, and also established Denny’s Japan bringing the U.S. restaurant chain to Japan.
In his writings and conversations following his successes, Mr. Ito encouraged the younger generations, urging “Let’s keep an adventurous spirit without being afraid to take risks.” We would like to take this advice to heart and live everyday with this mantra.