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Nikkei Woman Announces the Winners of its Woman of the Year 2020 Award:
Grand Prize Goes to the Corporate Manager who Brought V-shaped Recovery to the Long-Struggling Theme Park

Tokyo – November 29, 2019 – Nikkei Woman, a women’s career and lifestyle magazine published by Nikkei Business Publications (President & CEO: Naoto Yoshida; Minato-ku, Tokyo) announced the eight winners of its Woman of the Year 2020. The Award is to honor accomplishments of women who showed outstanding performance in various quarters.

The Grand Prize went to Ms. Aya Komaki, the 60-year-old President, CEO & CDO of Sanrio Entertainment Co., Ltd. and Director of Sanrio Puroland.

Slumping performance, unsuccessful team ---. What is needed to turn it around; cutting-edge technology, excellent human resources from outside, or large investment? The answer Ms. Komaki made was “NO”. Reviewing internal communications and implementing an organizational transformation, she has demonstrated that the company can fight by the current employees and assets. With “organizational transformation to develop people” such as raising motivation and deriving ideas through one-on-one dialogue with all employees, providing opportunities for communications between employees of different generations, positions, and departments, and fully enforcing active interaction from employees to part-time staff, she created a strong organization where staff proactively generate ideas and move. A screening member, Mr. Akie Iriyama, Professor at Waseda Business School praised “Servant Leadership that promotes creation of environment for the organization members to maximize their efforts has been receiving attention as a picture of new leader. The method by Ms. Komaki sets a good exemplar.”

Under “Cool Japan”, national strategy set by the government, focusing on the flow of consumption shifting from “things” to “koto=experience”, the world’s acceptance of liking for anime and cosplay, and the spread at low cost of “cute” by penetration of SNS, “Puroland fits with the era” she analyzed. She has succeeded in enhancing ability to draw visitors with the strategy to broaden targets to adults not only children, to become conscious of “Instagram worthy” in foods and facilities, to produce special experiences by enhancing perfection level of short events.

Ms. Komaki’s real life has been series of unexpected events and hardships. She started her career with Sanrio where she resigned at age of 25 to become a housewife, but her whole life changed at age of 34 when she lost her second son in an accident. She got divorced at age of 37 with “holding an empty hole in her heart”, and just like filling the hole, returned to work after an absence of 11 years spent as a housewife. After that, having had breast cancer at age of 48 and she removed her left breast and achieved a remission. At age of 50, she had a complete hysterectomy due to illness and then established organizations one after another to support women, saying “I became a person who can be closer to women than ever before.” “Now I would like to complete what I want to do as long as my life lasts”, she said.

As a head of the organization, she has demonstrated her capability to revive the company through the management by “developing people”. Returning to work after 11 years’ housewife life, her career of becoming CEO through experiences and learning has become a new role model in an era when women can challenge regardless of age. Ms. Komaki’s achievement was highly regarded and selected as the Grand Prize this year.

The Grand Prize winner of the Woman of the Year 2020,
Ms. Aya Komaki

This Year’s Award other winners were;

Semi-Grand Prize

  • Ms. Ai Nagashima, Director, Production Unit 3, Program Production Department, Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK)
    Having a hearing impairment, she made use of her own perspective to produce a documentary “A World of Boisterous Silence” (NHK) which received various awards.


  • Ms. Kayo Ishikawa, M.D., Ph.D., Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Director of Ishikawa Healthcare Group
    She developed a medical record app that enables voice-input by smartphone by collaborating with a voice recognition system development company. She actively promote ICT in local medical frontline that is suffering labor shortage.
  • Ms. Mami Kataoka, Deputy Director & Chief Curator, Mori Art Museum
    She curated “Shiota Chiharu: The Soul Trembles”, exhibition that was held at Mori Art Museum in Roppongi, Tokyo. The exhibition recorded 666,271 visitors yet as solo exhibition of a contemporary artist.
  • Ms. Yuri Hayashi, Deputy Mayor of Shijonawate City
    She demonstrated her ability as “Deputy Mayor with a child” of Shijonawate City that achieved population growth for the first time in 11 years. She was selected from over 1,700 applicants for the public recruitment project of the city’s deputy mayor.
  • Ms. Mari Hirata, Representative Director of Professional & Parallel Career Freelance Association
    She established the association to provide an infrastructure for freelance. It has formed a community of approx. 18,000 people to make policy proposals and to raise questions through media.
  • Ms. Yuriko Mizukoshi, Brand Manager of Baby & Childcare Marketing Dept, Marketing Division, Ezaki Glico Co., Ltd.
    She developed “ICREO Baby Milk” launched on March 5, 2019 as a first infant liquid milk in Japan, delivering relief to parenting people in Japan, a disaster-prone country.

Special Award

  • Ms. Marie Kondo, Tidying Consultant
    “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”, reality TV series Netflix launched in January 2019 was aired in 190 countries to create “KonMari Boom” worldwide.

The Woman of the Year aims to contribute to;

  1. Present a role model for working women
  2. Highlight an individual’s achievements that are often buried within an organization
  3. Capture the edge of changes of the times through accomplishments of outstanding women

It is an annual award presented since 1999 and now is in its 21st year. Nikkei Woman has been supporting working women since it was first published in 1988. Through its Women of the Year Award honoring the accomplishments of outstanding women in society, the magazine will continue to support and motivate working women for the next generation. The profiles of winners and details on the screening process and results are posted on the January issue of Nikkei WOMAN on sale from December 7, 2019.

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