Su, Rodrick (
Fri, 21 May 1999 09:06:43 -0700

This article appeared in the Daily Yomiuri on Thursday, May 20, 1999 on
page 20.

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Bandai aims to find winning ways after losses on Tamagotchi game

by Sayuri Saito
Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer

In 1996, Bandai Co., the nation's largest toy manufacturer, enjoyed booming
sales of Tamagotchi, its virtual-pet game. Recently, however, the company
has sustained deficits resulting from the disposal of its inventory of
unsold Tamagotchi. Bandai's net losses totaled 14.5 billion yen in fiscal
1998, marking the company's second consecutive year in the red.

In March, Bandai President Takashi Mogi, in taking responsibility for the
poor performance, was demoted to a regular board member. He was replaced by
Managing Director Takeo Takasu.

Takasu, a former banker, has since launched a plan to restructure the
company and has been busy promoting WonderSwan, the company's new
pocket-sized game.

Daily Yomiuri: About two months have passed since your appointment to
company president. What are some of the new challenges facing the company?

     Takasu: As you know, Bandai has marked enormous net losses.
     Therefore, I feel it will be difficult to restructure the
     company. The company is currently facing the first turning
     point since its establishment in 1950.

How do you plan to restructure the company?

     In recent years, we had devoted all our energy toward profit-
     minded management policies to enlarge the company. This
     increased production, which led to difficulties in upholding
     quality standards. I think this type of management structure
     was our biggest mistake. Our policy has since changed to
     emphasize quality over quantity.

     We have reorganized the company to include a new department
     for video games and pocket-sized electronic games. Meanwhile,
     we have no intention of drastically cutting staff numbers.

     Moreover, we will put in place a new system for our executive
     officers, which will clearly outline their responsibilities.
     I also hope to introduce a plan for shareholder in the future.

In the past, Bandai and Sega Enterprises Ltd. agreed to merge, but
ultimately canceled the plan. Do you have plans to share capital or merge
with other companies?

     We do not have any concrete plans now, but if such an
     opportunity should arise, we would try to cooperate or merge
     with distinguished companies.

What lessons have you learned from the production of the Tamagotchi game?

     Tamagotchi gave us an opportunity to reexamine our production
     system, but I think its concept should be continued in the
     future. This is because a decline in the birthrate has meant
     that our original market--children--has shrunk.

Is WonderSwan your next core product to replace Tamagotchi?

     Yes, we began to sell the pocket-sized game machine in March.
     Sales of the machine are increasing and I think we are off to
     a good start. We plan to make about 80 items of software for
     the WonderSwan and to sell 4 million machines by March. We
     would like this game to be a long-standing best-seller.

Bandai has produced many popular character-based products, such as Power
Ranger, Gundam, and Pocket Monsters. Is this the future of your business?

     We want to sell such products for a long time. In April, we
     began to sell new products based on the Dango Sankyodai (Three
     Dumpling Brothers). Actually, it is very hard for us to keep
     up with children's trends, as they tire of products quickly.
     Thus, I think it is very important for the next century to
     promote our popular characters--especially Gundam.

Sony Corp., Nintendo Co., and Sega Enterprises Ltd., are marketing
next-generation game machines. Do you intend to join the competition for
these products?

     No, because we have the bitter experience of the failure of
     our video game machine, Pipin Atmark. I think it is our role
     to add digital elements to analog toys. WonderSwan belongs
     to a different category from Sega's Dreamcast and Sony's
     PlayStation 2.

You were a banker until 1996. Do you think working in the toy sector agrees
with you?

     Yes, I do, because I am full of curiosity and a lover of
     novelty. So, I fit in at my company. Maybe I wasted my 30
     years at Sanwa Bank.

What would you like to say to your employees?

     I think our young employees are devoted to their work, and
     I rate them highly. Rather, I would like to say something
     to our managers. They tend to leave jobs to their subordinates,
     and do not offer support. The subordinates may be embarrassed
     and feel lonely. I think bosses should check subordinates' work
     sometimes and offer suggestions, if needed. Such a policy would
     benefit other companies, too.

Takeo Takasu

-- June 1945: Born in Yokohama
-- April 1968: Joined Sanwa Bank
-- April 1986: Became Azabu bureau chief of Sanwa Bank
-- October 1988: Transferred to DDI Co.
-- October 1993: Became Los Angeles bureau chief of Sanwa Bank
-- April 1996: Joined Bandai Co.
-- June 1996: Became president of Bandai Holding Corp. in the United States
-- June 1997: Became the managing director of the company
-- March 1999: Became president of the company

Company profile

-- Address: 2-5-4, Komagata, Taito Ward, Tokyo 111-8081
-- Telephone: 03-3847-5005
-- Web site:
-- Capital: 21,796 million yen

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