COLUMBUS, Ind. — Toyo Corp. President Iichiro Haga couldn’t hold back tears Friday as he spoke in memory of his brother, former company president Shojiro Haga, who died last October at age 52.
Shojiro, who preceded Iichiro as president of Toyo, also was a past president of its Columbus subsidiary Precision Tools Service (PTS), and well known locally. Many PTS employees joined Iichiro, Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop and community, business and civic leaders outside NexusPark for a ceremonial tree planting in Shojiro’s honor.
“Thank you, Mayor Lienhoop, for planting cherry blossom trees in his memory. The cherry blossom tree is the national tree of Japan,” Iichiro said, then stopped momentarily, wiping away welling tears.
“Sorry,” he said, as sympathetic “awws” rippled through the crowd.
“Our family and employees are blessed and humbled by your kindness. I look forward to coming back someday to see the flowers blooming in the spring,” Iichiro said. “… I’m sure Shojiro is watching us from heaven and appreciates the great honor.”
It was a bittersweet dedication that honored the memory of a business leader while also looking forward to the ongoing NexusPark development on which the trees will grow.
“We are here today because Columbus has always welcomed us so warmly,” Iichiro said. “Our company, PTS, has been here since 1988, and we are very proud of being a member of this community. My late brother Shojiro was very fond of Columbus. He spent more time here than in any other city outside of Japan.”
Officials said the memorial also serves to strengthen the bonds between Columbus and Toyo, based in Kariya City, Aichi, as well as several other leading Japanese-based businesses with operations in the community.
For more on this story, see Saturday’s Republic.