Konosuke Matsushita by Wikimedia commons

Top Ten Astonishing Facts about Kōnosuke Matsushita


Kōnosuke Matsushita was a Japanese industrialist. He was born on 27 November 1894. This was approximately 26 years after the Meiji Restoration of 1868 when Japan’s industrial revolution was at its prime. Matsushita is referred to as the God of Management in Japan.

Matsushita was born in Wakayama Prefecture, a prefecture located in the Kansai region of Honshu. His father was an opulent landlord in the farming village of Wasa and supposedly was one of the cash-rich people in his community. Lets’s go through the top ten astonishing facts about Kōnosuke Matsushita.

1. He set up his company in the basement of his tenement

Members of Osaka Light Company by Osaka Light Company – Wikimedia commons

Matsushita left Osaka Electric Light Company in 1917 to set up his own company. To be precise, he had no capital, a formal education, or experience in the manufacturing industry. Due to these shortcomings, he was disadvantaged because it would appear he was putting himself in failure. 

He established his shop in the basement of his tenement. His wife, brother-in-law, and several assistants helped him in his new business that had not taken the market then. 

2. Matsushita was optimistic

Konosuke Matsushita by Wikimedia commons

After setting up his new company, Matsushita started making several samples for his product. He would usually introduce his product to wholesalers but he failed to make sales because he only operated on a small scale.

No signs of success were shown in Matsushita’s business. His employees resigned an only his wife and brother-in-law had faith in him. He did not lose hope though hoping that his business would take a good lead. 

His wife became both a salesman and manager of the business. The business faced another risk whereby it almost went bankrupt. The dying business unexpectedly received a huge order of a thousand insulator plates for electric fans. He was able to produce his light sockets.

3. He was a man of quality not quantity

Matsushita’s Panasonic by Ohgi – Wikimedia commons

After his business had started showing signs of growth, Matsushita started making sockets on a large scale. Wholesalers realized that his products especially the sockets were of good quality. His products were also less expensive compared to products from the market.

His business was becoming popular. He originally marketed products under the brand name “National” but later, he changed to a more recognizable name Panasonic. He is the one who founded Panasonic.

4. He invented a reliable battery-powered bicycle lamp

In 1923 the popular Panasonic company released a Bullet-shaped bicycle lamp. This battery-powered bicycle lamp was actually an idea by Konosuke Matsushita. His company became famous for the invention of the bicycle lamp.

Initially, candle lamps and oil lamps were commonly used for bicycles at the time. Battery-powered lamps were also available then but were unreliable and their batteries lasted only for either 2 or 3 hours. He designed the lamp and many test models that lasted 6 months.

5. He was a risk-taker

Well, we all know the qualities of a successful businessman, and must be a risk-taker is among the qualities. At the prime of his business as the owner of Panasonic, Matsushita was aiming to improve the badly reputed electronics in the market. This itself was a risk.

Matsushita for instance when made the Bullet-shaped bicycle lamp, the wholesalers doubted his invention and refused to buy it from him. Due to their bad image in the market, he left the samples at the store with the agreement that they would purchase the lamps if only they proved they were worthy.

Matsushita was confident to the extent that he willingly risked his company’s future development with his gamble. The high-quality lamps that ran for 30 to 40 hours on three batteries saved his career and his risk was worth it.

6. Matsushita was foresighted

Attachment plug improved by Matsushita’s company by Ohgi – Wikimedia commons

Matsushita learned a very important lesson while he was trying to introduce his bicycle lamp to the market structures. He realized that no matter how superior your product is in terms of quality. He started conceiving ways to create sales channels for his products.

He started concentrating less on manufacturing and started focusing more on building a sales force. He came up with a retail store network which placed his company on the map in Japan’s electrical manufacturing and retail industry. In 1929 he started new structures in his company.

Panasonic was structured as a parent company and branches of divisions that specialized in a particular product were created. The divisions each specialized in their sales. There was a bicycle lamp and battery division, an electrical socket division, and a radio division. Regional offices at strategic positions were established to co-ordinated the divisions with the main company.

7. Matsushita’s business was affected by WW2

Matsushita almost lost his position as the president at Panasonic after World War II. General Douglas MacArthur broke up the Zaibatsu business conglomerates of Japan. This was during the US occupation of Japan after World War II. Matsushita though was saved by a favorable petition signed by 15, 000 employees. 

8. Matsushita was succeeded by his son-in-law

In 1961, Matsushita stepped down from the then world-class electrical goods manufacturing company. This time his succession was voluntary unlike the one after the post-war period of WW2. Masaharu Matsushita is his son son-in-law that succeeded Matsushita. 

Matsushita Konosuke remained active in his company Panasonic until he completely retired in 1973 at the age of 79, and assumed the post of executive advisor in the company. His grandson Masayuki Matsushita is the vice-chairman of the company.

9. After retiring Matsushita became a writer

Konosuke Matsushita by Wikimedia commons

Matsushita started another line of livelihood after retiring. In order to explain his social and commercial philosophies, he authored 44 books. One of his books that largely sold was “Developing A Road To Peace And Happiness Through Prosperity” which sold over 4 million copies.

He also founded the Matsushita School of Government and Management. It was founded so as to train future upcoming politicians and businessmen of Japan.

10. Konosuke died in 1989

Matsushita died from pneumonia, an inflammatory condition of the lung that primarily affects the alveoli. The condition was brought about by his early diagnosed Chronic lung problems. He died at the age of 94.

Konosuke died a successful businessman, industrialist, and author. He died with personal assets worth US$3 billion and left the company with US$42 billion in revenue business. He also received many national and foreign honors. He was honored at Stamford University by endowing a Professorship in International Strategy and Management.