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by Marc Borrelli (archives)
June 25, 2001
Marc Borrelli's series on the early history of Tokyo Disneyland continues with the story of Takahashi Masatomo's arrival at Oriental Land Company and how it couldn't have come a moment too soon.

The Fishermen
Part 3 - Takahashi and Fujio
Click if you missed Part One or Part Two

1960... Fujio is in jail, Oriental Land Company's reputation is dirt (so to speak), and there's no one to negotiate with the fishermen. But that was only the warm-up. The deed for O-sankaku was still in Fujio's name... and he had a plan.

In the wake of his bribery arrest and the discovery of his (rather extensive) embezzlement, he was expelled from OLC and ordered to transfer the title of O-sankaku to the company.

He pretended to cooperate, but he was up to something. Technically, the land was still his, and he had every intention of selling it.

Getting away with that wouldn't be easy. The transaction would have to take place right under the nose of OLC. But he had a buyer, a well known and powerful right wing politician, who could help him with that problem and the other legal entanglements that would potentially prevent him from getting his hands on "his" money.

• • •

Meanwhile, OLC, needed someone - someone special - a man who could build a new bridge to the fishermen.

Edo Hideo (President of Mitsui Fudosan) had someone in mind...

Born in 1913, Takahashi Masatomo was the reluctant son of a powerful politician. After his graduation from Tokyo University in 1939, he went to work for a small engine parts manufacturing company. Considering his father's position and his graduation from Japan's top school, he could have taken any number of more prestigious positions in much larger companies.

But he deliberately chose a small company. In his youth he'd developed a resentment for large companies due to his fathers dealings with them. He'd also developed a resentment for his demanding father. His choice of employment was a direct result of his desire to remove himself from his father influence.

He was married a year later and continued to distance himself by taking the very unusual step of adopting his wife's family name. Then, in that same year, he moved with his wife to Shanghai, China to work for Nissin (foods).

He didn't want to be a solider, but it wasn't long before Japan escalated its invasion of China and he was drafted.

After World War 2 he started his own company, acting as a middle man in the oil business.

It was then that he met Edo Hideo. The two of them quickly developed a deep friendship, a friendship that got off to an interesting and pretty humorous start -

It was 1950 and Tokyo Bank wasn't happy with the location on its Ginza offices. Actually, they just wanted to move into a building across the street, a building owned by Mitsui Fudosan. Yasugi Shoji of Tokyo Bank was aquatinted with Takahashi and asked him if he knew anyone at Mitsui Fudosan. He didn't, but he mentioned the deal to his cousin, a member of the National Diet. As it turned out, Takahashi's cousin and Edo Hideo were an old classmates at (where else) Tokyo University.

Takahashi's cousin wrote a letter of introduction for him to give to Edo. When Takahashi showed up at Edo's office with the letter, Edo's small stature and disheveled appearance caught him off guard.

Takahashi said, "I would like to meet Edo-san". Edo said, "Ok, what is your business here?". Takahashi was offended by the question. He thought he was talking to Edo's secretary. Again Takahashi said, "I'm waiting for Edo-san". Again Edo said, "Ok, what is your business?" Suddenly Takahashi realized he was talking to Edo and apologize profusely.

Takahashi then mentioned the Tokyo Bank building deal. Edo closed his eyes for a moment, reflected on the situation, opened them again and said "Ok, I will work on it". Edo gave his word to make things happen quickly. He wasn't kidding. The deal went through almost immediately.

Takahashi was impressed and developed a great respect for Edo and his ability to get things done. Edo also saw something in Takahashi. Takahashi's strong but personable and persuasive nature wasn't lost on him. They became fast friends and Edo arranged a good job for him at Kenzai, a company which worked closely with Mitsui Fudosan.

• • •

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