Vice President of Yamazaki Baking Co. found dead


24th May 2024 – (Tokyo) In January this year, the corporate world was shaken by the untimely death of Sachiiko Iijima, Vice President of Yamazaki Baking Co., Japan’s renowned bakery company. Iijima, the second son of the incumbent President, Nobuhiro Iijima, was found deceased in the company’s headquarters under circumstances that have sparked intense discussion about mental health in the workplace.

Sachiiko, described by colleagues as the heir apparent to the Yamazaki empire, had reportedly been battling mental health issues, exacerbated by the immense pressures of his role within the company. Despite medical advice urging him to take time off, it is alleged that he continued to work at the behest of company mandates.

The situation within Yamazaki Baking appears to have been fraught with challenges. According to insider accounts, the company’s performance under Sachiiko’s older brother, had been lacklustre, leading to significant debt. This prompted Nobuhiro Iijima to prepare Sachiiko for leadership, positioning him and his brother as Vice Presidents, yet placing the majority of operational responsibilities on Sachiiko’s shoulders.

Employees have revealed that Sachiiko’s demeanour changed notably after he took on these responsibilities. He reportedly became prone to talking to himself, a sign of his deteriorating mental condition. By the end of 2022, there was a sudden reshuffle of roles between him and his brother, a move that fuelled speculation about Sachiiko’s capability to handle his duties.

Tragically, it was on the 12th floor of the company’s headquarters where Sachiiko was found in distress. Despite immediate medical intervention, he succumbed, with suicide being mooted as a possible cause of death. Staff also disclosed that the senior Iijima often reprimanded his sons, particularly Sachiiko, over business matters, with Gai maintaining a more relaxed approach to their father’s criticisms.

In response to inquiries, Yamazaki Baking’s corporate communications have stated, “This is a matter of personal privacy and as such, we are not at liberty to discuss it.” They further emphasised that some reported details do not align with the facts as known to the company.

Yamazaki Baking Co. Ltd., the premier bread-baking enterprise and the largest bakery in Japan, was established by Tojuro Iijima and is currently under the leadership of Nobuhiro Iijima, a third-generation member of the founding family.

Each year, Yamazaki introduces more than 1,000 new bread products, alongside a broad range of food items that are marketed both domestically and internationally. The company began its international expansion in 1981, opening a fresh bakery in Hong Kong. This was followed by the establishment of operations in Thailand in 1984 and in Taiwan in 1987. Yamazaki acquired the U.S.-based bagel producer and distributor Bakewise Brands in 2016, further diversifying its product portfolio to include bread, sweet buns, Japanese-style sweets, and Western confections.

Globally, Yamazaki operates over 109,000 outlets. The company’s board includes family members Sachihiko Iijima and Mikio Iijima as vice presidents, with Nobuhiro Iijima at the helm as president.