Seiji Tsutsumi Profile

Seiji Tsutsumi, aka Takashi Tsujii

Seiji Tsutsumi was born in Tokyo in March 1927. After graduating from the Faculty of Economics of the University of Tokyo, Tsutsumi started his career as a secretary to his father, Yasujiro Tsutsumi, who was at the time Chairman of the House of Representatives. Tsutsumi then joined Seibu Department Stores in 1954. He became president of the supermarket chain Seiyu, which he founded in 1963, and president of Seibu Department Stores in 1966. During the 1970s and the 1980s, Tsutsumi built and led the conglomerate known as the Saison Group, which included numerous companies such as Credit Saison, Ryohin Keikaku (which owns the brand MUJI), and the convenience store chain Family Mart. Tsutsumi resigned from his post as representative of the Saison Group in 1991.
In 1982, Tsutsumi donated two million U.S. dollars from the Saison Group to the Asian Cultural Council (ACC), a foundation which belongs to the Rockefeller legacy of philanthropic giving, to establish ACC’s office in Tokyo and eventually launch its Japan-United States Arts Program. At that time, this was the largest corporate contribution from Japan ever made to an arts program of a U.S. nonprofit organization. Tsutsumi became a member of ACC’s board of trustees from 1983 and was appointed as a life trustee in 2012. Tsutsumi established the Takanawa Art Museum (now known as the Sezon Museum of Modern Art) in 1986, and The Saison Foundation with his own personal funds in 1987, and served as presidents of the two foundations until his demise in November 2013. He also served as a member of the board of trustees of the Noguchi Museum, the Japan Advisory Committee of the Japan Society of New York, and the International Council of The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Tsutsumi was awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre de la Legion d’Honneur in 1970 and Officier de l’Ordre de la Legion d’Honneur in 1987 from the French Republic, the Commander’s Cross 1st Class for Service to the Republic of Austria in 1989, and was named as Honorable Doctor of Moscow State University in 1993. In 1998, Tsutsumi received a doctorate in economics from Chuo University for his 1996

Seiji Tsutsumi receives the Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Award from Ms. Elizabeth McCormack, Chairman Emerita of the Asian Cultural Council (ACC), in Tokyo in October 2012.
Photo: Masaya Yoshimura

 thesis Blueprint for Change – Beyond the Distribution Theory. He was presented the Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Award from the ACC in 2012.

Tsutsumi was also active as a poet and novelist under the pen name Takashi Tsujii. After releasing his first anthology of poems titled Futashikana Asa (An Uncertain Morning) in 1955, he published many works and won prizes for his books of poetry and novels, including the Junichiro Tanizaki Prize in 1994, the Noma Literary Prize in 2004, the Japan Art Academy Prize in 2006, the Yomiuri Prize for Literature in 2007, and the Japan Poets Association’s Contemporary Poets Award in 2009. Tsujii was inducted into the Japan Art Academy in 2007. He was selected as meshiudo (the person who composes a poem by special order of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan) for the Imperial New Year’s Poetry Reading in 2012, and was also honored as Person of Cultural Merit by the Japanese government the same year. His works have been translated into English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Arabic, Korean, and Chinese. As Takashi Tsujii, he served as member of the board of directors of the Japan Pen Club, vice-president of the Japan Writers’ Association, and was chairman of the Japan-China Cultural Exchange Association.

The Saison Foundation extends its sincere gratitude to the following Legal Entity Support members and for their generous contributions (as of March 2023/in alphabetical order):