Nintendo announced its successor to the late Satoru Iwata.
Tatsumi Kimishima, a former Nintendo of America president with a strong business and financial background who also held various executive positions within the company, is now the new president of Nintendo two months after the death of Satoru Iwata.
Kimishima, 65, is only the fifth president in the company’s 125-year history and just the second to be from outside of the original founding Yamauchi family.
Nintendo Co. announced its new president on Monday, who was chosen at the company’s board of directors meeting. Kimishima will take over the position on Sept. 16. Nintendo is also now undergoing what it called a large-scale, company-wide restructuring aimed at strengthening its management.
Kimishima was born on April 21, 1950 in Tokyo, Japan. He graduated from Hitotsubashi University in Japan. He worked for 27 years in the banking industry for The Sanwa Bank (now The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ) based in Osaka, Japan, one of the largest in the world, with different roles at various posts in the U.S. such as corporate planning and international business development during his time there between 1973 to 2000.
He joined the video game industry in December 2000 when he became president of The Pokemon Company and in 2001 the president of its American division Pokemon USA, overseeing the franchise’s continued expansion and popularity with games like Pokemon Gold and Silver.
In January 2002 he was appointed the director of Nintendo of America. Kimishima was president of Nintendo of America between January 2002 and May 2006 during the GameCube and Game Boy Advance years, until Reggie Fils-Aime took over the position. Kimishima then transitioned into its director and CEO until June 2013 when Iwata overtook those responsibilities.
Kimishima went on to be in several executive positions within Nintendo. In 2013 he was appointed managing director of the company in Kyoto, Japan after his role at Nintendo of America. Recently he was the head of Nintendo’s human resource division, which he started in June 2014.
With his expertise in business and financials, Kimishima represents a more traditional businessman compared to Iwata, who started his career at Nintendo as a game developer but also had leadership experience with HAL Laboratory, Inc. Kimishima worked most of his career internationally, especially in the United States, applying that knowledge to a video game company in Nintendo. He goes between Japan and the U.S. where he lives in Redmond, Washington.
At a news conference in Japan, Kimishima said there won’t be any major changes to the basic polices of Nintendo set by Iwata. Under his leadership Nintendo will be focused on developing younger talent and executives within the company, he also said. Kimishima said he’s currently only elected president for one year, according to Nikkei, a Japanese newspaper. Kimishima is already at the retirement age and could be more of a transitional president for Nintendo as it prepares the next generation of leadership and game hardware.
Kimishima was never much of a public figure for Nintendo. Compared to Iwata who was the face of Nintendo, leading the “Nintendo Direct” videos of the company’s announcements and did “Iwata Asks” with other game developers, both fields that showed the former president’s personality. Kimishima did appear at news conferences and corporate presentations alongside Iwata, discussing the company’s financial aspects. Kimishima worked closely with Iwata over the years, who was president of Nintendo from May 2002 until his death on July 11 at age 55.
In this management restructuring of Nintendo, Shigeru Miyamoto, the Mario and Zelda creator, and Genyo Takeda, architect of the Wii console, received new positions and titles effective Sept. 16. Miyamato will now be known as the company’s “Creative Fellow” with Takeda being the “Technology Fellow.” Both men had served as Nintendo’s interim presidents after Iwata’s death.
These two new positions are described by Nintendo as, “An individual selected from among the Representative Directors who has advanced knowledge and extensive experience, and holds the role of providing advice and guidance regarding organizational operations in a specialized area.”
Nintendo is merging and restructuring its long-standing internal development branches starting this week. Miyamoto was formerly head of the Entertainment Analysis & Development (EAD) division that created games and Takeda was the general manager of the Integrated Research & Development (IRD) division that focused on hardware. These look to have been combined into newly created divisions within Nintendo.
Shinya Takahashi, 52, a longtime Nintendo employee who was general manager of the Software Planning & Development division overseeing the development of many key second and third-party games, is now the general manager of the new Entertainment Planning & Development division within Nintendo. This division combines the EAD and SPD together. He’s also the supervisor of the company’s all-new Business Development Division and its Development Administration & Support Division.
Katsuya Eguchi, producer on the Animal Crossing series and Wii Sports (2006), and Yoshiaki Koizumi, producer on Super Mario Galaxy 2 (2010) and Super Mario 3D World (2013), will be the deputy general managers of the Entertainment Planning & Development division under Takahashi.
The IRD and System Development Division merged into the new Platform Technology Development Division, which will create Nintendo hardware, operating systems, networks and development tools, according to IGN. Ko Shiota, who helped design the Wii U hardware and GamePad, is the new general manager of this division.
The restructuring plan sees Nintendo take on more a group leadership philosophy to the company’s future. Kimishima will be in charge of the corporate aspects, while Miyamoto and Takeda advise on game development and Nintendo’s hardware creations.
As the Wii U struggles against Sony and Microsoft with only a little more than 10 million worldwide sales since its launch in November 2012, Kimishima will take over the company during one of its biggest transitional periods, as it prepares its next generation console, changes business strategies and cultivates new faces of leadership.
He will oversee the launch of Nintendo’s next home console code-named “NX” and the mobile partnership with Japanese mobile company DeNA, both started under Iwata. The first mobile game is scheduled to release this year. Another mobile title for iOS and Android smartphones announced last week, Pokemon Go, will launch in 2016.