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At Universal Music Japan, Kazu Koike Elevated To President/COO
By Mi2N
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At Universal Music Japan, Kazu Koike has been appointed president and chief operating officer, with effect from January 1, 2007. The promotion was announced by Keiichi Ishizaka, chairman and chief executive officer of Universal Music Japan, to whom he reports. For the past two years, Koike has been managing director of the company's Universal Sigma label, while also overseeing international repertoire.

The appointment completes the strategic reorganization of Universal Music Japan, initiated by Ishizaka earlier this year to strengthen and broaden its business and, in particular, its successful domestic repertoire divisions. The company was the industry leader for the first nine months of 2006 with a 14.6 percent market share, according to data from the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ), and held a 17.3 percent share for the month of September.

Koike's promotion reflects an accomplished track record. He joined Universal Music's Polydor label in 1977, advancing in 2000 to head its international division, responsible for the marketing of such Universal Music Group superstars as U2, Eminem, Sting, Mariah Carey, Bon Jovi, Shania Twain, t.A.T.u. and Gwen Stefani.

In 2001, Koike was tapped by Ishizaka to launch Def Jam Japan as a hip hop-oriented, cutting-edge label for domestic repertoire. It has since grown into Universal Sigma Records, achieving major success with artists such as AI and WaT, while revitalizing the careers of such established acts as Hideaki Tokunaga and Chara.

As president/COO of Universal Music Japan, Koike will be responsible for three key domestic labels, Nayutawave, Universal Sigma and Far Eastern Tribe (FET), and will oversee the International, Classics & Jazz, and Universal Strategic Marketing divisions. Reporting to him will be Managing Directors Susumu Machida (Nayutawave), Naoshi Fujikura (Sigma), Atsushi Suzuki (FET), Kimi Kato (International), Hiroshi Aono (Classics & Jazz), and Yasuo Chikatsu (USM).

Universal J, under managing director Atsushi Kitamura, reports to Keiichi Ishizaka, as does the newly formed UMA artist management division under Managing Director Yasunori Heguri. Nobuko Suzuki, chief financial officer, and Takashi Kimoto, managing director, Sales & Marketing, continue to report to Ishizaka.

Keiichi Ishizaka commented, "Kazu Koike is the best of a new generation of music industry talent, with broad experience in both international and domestic repertoire. His thinking is bold and fresh, and I am confident that he will steer Universal Music Japan to even greater success in the future."

Signaling the growth of Universal Music Japan, Keiichi Ishizaka advanced from president to chairman/CEO in September, when he also signed a new, long-term contract with the company. Its current strength is largely due to top-selling 2006 releases by Spitz, Dreams Come True, Hideaki Tokunaga, TOKIO and AI, and to new-artist breakthroughs, including WaT and mihimaru GT.

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