Masatoshi Ito, Japanese Billionaire and 7-Eleven Founder, Passes Away at 98

Masatoshi Ito, the Japanese billionaire who made 7-Eleven into a worldwide success, has sadly died at the age of 98.[0] Ito Yokado, the company Ito founded in 1958, formed a deal with 7-Eleven’s owner, the US-based Southland Corporation, in 1974 and opened Japan’s first 7-Eleven.[1] The iconic convenience store chain was the brainchild of Ito’s business acumen, which was heavily influenced by the late management consultant Peter Drucker, who described Ito as “one of the world’s outstanding entrepreneurs and business builders.”[2]

Ito was born in Tokyo in 1924, graduated from a commercial school in Yokohama, and entered a predecessor company of Mitsubishi Materials Corp. in 1944.[3] After his military service, he inherited his family-run apparel store Yokado and renamed it Ito-Yokado.[4] The company went public in 1972 and was later rebranded to Seven & I Holdings in 2005, a major holding company with 7-Eleven Japan Co. under its wing.[5]

In 1992, Ito resigned as president of his company Ito Yokada due to alleged payments by company officials to three Yakuza gangsters.[6] He stepped down as president in 1992 and became the honorary chairman of the Ito-Yokado group in 1996.[7] The company announced his death on Monday, stating that he died of old age on March 10.[8]

According to Forbes, Ito had amassed a net worth of $4.35 billion at the time of his death, ranking him as the eighth-wealthiest person in Japan.[9] Seven & I Holdings said that his funeral was held privately by his family.[7] When asked about his success in a 1988 interview, Ito responded, “I am frequently asked if I succeeded because of hard work or because I was just lucky. The answer is some of both.”[1]

The company plans to close 33 Ito-Yokado outlets in Japan by the end of February 2026.[10] Seven & I Holdings said it will also exit the apparel business as part of its restructuring plan.[1] By the end of February 2026, the number of Ito-Yokado stores will be reduced to 93, a decrease from the 126 stores at the end of February 2021.[11]

0. “Ito Masatoshi, Japanese Billionaire Behind Success of 7-Eleven, Dead at 98” Yahoo Entertainment, 14 Mar. 2023,

1. “Masatoshi Ito, billionaire who made 7-Eleven a global giant, dies at 98” BBC, 13 Mar. 2023,

2. “Japanese billionaire Masatoshi Ito is dead” Vanguard, 14 Mar. 2023,

3. “Ito-Yokado Founder Masatoshi Ito Dies |”, 13 Mar. 2023,

4. “7-Eleven Pioneer Masatoshi Ito Dies, 98” The Motley Fool, 15 Mar. 2023,

5. “Japan's Seven & i to Close 33 Ito-Yokado Stores in 3 Years”, 9 Mar. 2023,

6. “Obituary | Masatoshi Ito, the Japanese man behind global success of 7-Eleven dies aged 98” WION, 14 Mar. 2023,

7. “Masatoshi Ito, Ito-Yokado and Seven-Eleven Japan founder, dies at 98” Kyodo News Plus, 13 Mar. 2023,

8. “Masatoshi Ito, Japanese billionaire behind the rise of 7-Eleven, dies at 98” msnNOW, 14 Mar. 2023,

9. “Masatoshi Ito, who brought 7-Eleven convenience stores to Japan, has died” KUNC, 14 Mar. 2023,

10. “Seven & I Shares Drop on Supermarket-Closure Plans” Morningstar, 10 Mar. 2023,

11. “Seven & I to close more Ito-Yokado stores, exit apparel business” Inside Retail Asia, 9 Mar. 2023,

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