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Canon Chairman Mitarai, 84, doubles up as president again

Heavyweight of business world will serve both roles until replacement found

Canon Chairman and CEO Fujio Mitarai will fill in for the president. (Photo by Akira Kodaka)

TOKYO -- Canon Chairman and CEO Fujio Mitarai will take on the roles of president and chief operating officer after the executive who held those positions, Masaya Maeda, retired for health reasons, the company said Friday.

Maeda reportedly requested retirement because treatment of his illness will take some time. The personnel move was decided on at the Japanese company's board meeting on Friday and took effect that day. Maeda, 67, will serve as chief technology adviser starting Saturday.

Mitarai, 84, became Canon's president in 1995 and chairman in 2006. This is the second time he is serving concurrently as CEO and president, having taken on the president's position in 2012 after the company's earnings plunged due to the global financial crisis and heavy flooding in Thailand.

Maeda was instrumental to the rapid growth of Canon's digital camera business in the latter half of the 2000s. He was named president in 2016.

Canon is currently shifting its focus from its main businesses of cameras and office equipment to new fields such as security cameras and medical devices. Its office equipment business is taking a hit from the novel coronavirus pandemic as more people go paperless as they work from home.

The next president is expected to be selected by Canon's nomination and remuneration advisory committee, which was established in 2016 and is comprised mostly of outside directors.

Mitarai is a prominent business leader, having served as chairman of the Japan Business Federation, or Keidanren, from 2006 to 2010.

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