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Kyocera founder Kazuo Inamori parlayed insecurities into success

Early setbacks shaped renowned executive's approach to business -- and life

Kazuo Inamori served as chairman of Japan Airlines, leading a revival of the carrier after its 2010 bankruptcy filing. (Photo by Konosuke Urata)

TOKYO -- Despite being one of Japan's most effective business leaders, first as the founder of Kyocera and KDDI, then as chairman of Japan Airlines during its turnaround, the late Kazuo Inamori was always a humble man.

Executives from across Japan used to attend seminars at Seiwajyuku, a management school Inamori started in the 1980s, in hopes of gleaning some of his vast expertise. But "I'm just a regular guy," he would say in interviews ever since this correspondent first met him, when he was in his 50s and still Kyocera's president.

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