Shotaro Kamiya, 82, the first president of Toyota Motor Sales Co. who played a major role in making Toyota one of the world's largest-selling cars, died Thursday in Tokyo. A company spokesman reported the cause of death was heart failure.
A pioneer of Japan's auto industry, Mr. Kamiya became president of Toyota Motor sales, the marketing arm of the Toyota Motor Co., when it was established in 1950.
He began his career after graduating from the Nagoya School of Commerce in 1917, working in England and the United States for the giant trading company, Mitsui and Co. He later worked for General Motors in Japan.
Just a few years after assuming Toyota's top post, Mr. Kamiya laid the groundwork for a nationwide network of dealerships that would eventually expand to 319 franchised dealers and more than 3,300 outlets selling Toyota products.
In 1975, he was appointed chairman of Toyota Motor Sales. He assumed the post of honorary chairman last year.
Mr, Kamiya, whose motto, "First the customer, then the dealers, then the manufacturer," became the company's guiding philosophy, made world headlines in 1972, when he established a $445,000 shrine for the repose of the souls of persons killed in Toyota cars. The 600-square-foot memorial, which houses a statue of the Buddhist deity of mercy, is located in the Japanese mountain resort of Tateshina.