Takeo Shigemitsu, founder of the Lotte group, which engages in a wide range of businesses in Japan and South Korea, died at a Seoul hospital on Sunday. He was 98.
Shigemitsu, whose Korean name is Shin Kyuk-ho, was born in Ulsan in southeastern South Korea in 1921. He went to Japan in 1942 and set up Lotte there in 1948 as a chewing gum maker. His business in Japan included foods and retail.
Two years after Tokyo and Seoul normalized diplomatic relations in 1965, he established Lotte Confectionary in South Korea. His business in the country later expanded to include foods, retail, tourism and petrochemical.
In 2009, Shigemitsu became chairman of Japan’s Lotte and later doubled as chairman of South Korea’s Lotte group.
In July 2015, he stepped aside to become honorary chairman of Lotte Holdings, the Japanese Lotte group’s core firm, without the right to represent the company.
He was sentenced to four years in prison for embezzlement in 2017. But he was allowed to stay out of prison for health reasons.
He is known to have had a friendship with the late Japanese Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, grandfather of current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.