閲覧支援ボタン
Font Size
Color Contrast
Language
ENTERTAINER
People who create 2025

Takumi Matsuda

ASICS Corporation
General Manager, Sports Marketing Department, Sports Marketing Division

Takumi Matsuda – Creating an Environment for Everyone to Enjoy Sports. Aspiring for ASICS to Be Everyone’s Bridge Builder.

2024.01.09

It all started in 1949.
A small company with two employees created by the founder, Kihachiro Onizuka, is now an official partner of the World Championships in Athletics.
The company has become a top company that no one knows by name.
We asked Onizuka-san about their mindset as a sports manufacturer carrying on the spirit of the founder, and their vision for the upcoming Tokyo Games in 2025.

Alignment of World Athletics’ Vision and ASICS’ Desire
to Contribute to Sports Culture Leads to Official Partnership

-What is the background that led you to your current position as a sports manufacturer?

Matsuda-san The founder, Kihachiro Onizuka, was impressed by the words of his comrade-in-arms at the time, the head of the Health and Sports Section of the Hyogo Prefectural Board of Education, who said, “If you pray to God, you should pray for a sound mind in a sound body.” I heard that he started making full-fledged sports shoes with the aim of fostering healthy youth through sports.
The first sports shoes he made were basketball shoes, which are said to be the most difficult of all sports shoes. “If we can overcome a high hurdle at the beginning, we can overcome subsequent hurdles in rapid succession!” Onizuka-san thought. We brought samples to local strong schools many times and made improvements while listening to various opinions from the players, which led to the launch of the product in 1950.
The company then began manufacturing sportswear and developed into an international sportswear manufacturer, achieving a 60% share of the national market for baseball stockings. At the time, athletic tabi shoes was the norm, but “marap shoes” were introduced as more suitable for marathon running. Marap means “marathon-up shoes,” and they dramatically improved functions such as lightweight and shock-absorbing properties.
In the 1980s, we established the ASICS Sports Engineering Laboratory* to analyze the human body’s movements and manufacture products based on that data. This is the starting point of our manufacturing.
※The Laboratory was established in 1985 to realize its vision of “creating high quality lifestyles through intelligent technology cultivated in sports.” The company’s mission is to continuously create innovative products and services by focusing on and analyzing human movement and using proprietary materials and structural design technologies.

In 1950, the first competitive sports shoes manufactured were the most difficult “basketball shoes” of the time.
Dramatically improved the functionality of marathon shoes that were based on Zashiki Tabi Shoes.

-When did you become an official partner of the World Championships in Athletics?

Matsuda-san In 2017, we signed a contract with the World Association of Athletics Federations (WAF) as an official partner, and from 2019 we have signed a new 10-year contract. Athletics has a very long history as well as being an Olympic sport, and we have been supporting marathon runners and short-distance athletes for many years. Through athletics, ASICS’ desire to “contribute to sports culture” matched the desire of the World Association of Athletics Federations (WAF). It was like the time was right.

-What are your specific activities as an official partner?

Matsuda-san Right now, we provide clothing and shoes for the staff and volunteers involved in the World Championships in Athletics. At the Games, we also conduct seminars to increase the rate of women taking up the sport and to create excitement for future running events. When the World Championships in Athletics are held, we also set up a local “ASICS House” where we can communicate with athletes, officials of athletic organizations, and other customers around the world to strengthen partnerships and relationships.

 

Budapest Mass Race: 6,000 Participants Flood the City
with Smiles Running the Same Course on the Same Day as the Athletes!

-How did you support the recent Oregon 2022 and Budapest 2023 Games?

Matsuda-san At the Oregon Games, we held a “mass race” in which the general public could participate. This event was timed to coincide with the World Championships in Athletics, and run on the same course as the athletes on the same day. Not only on the day of the race, but also in advance of the race, we communicated with participants and provided training on how to run and how to choose shoes to support them from entry to completion of the race. We also had a mass race in Budapest in 2023, and since the organizer has moved to the organizing committee for the event, we were able to communicate and support them to make sure they are supporting their participants.

The mass race at the Budapest 2023 World Championships in Athletics. Participants’ expressions are cheerful as they are able to run on the actual course.

-What was the reaction of those who participated in the Mass Race?

Matsuda-san We had about 700-800 participants at the Oregon Games, but we had over 6,000 participants at the Budapest Games. I was really surprised at the number of participants! However, we had accumulated knowledge from the Tokyo Marathon and other running events overseas, so we were able to make full use of that knowledge while cooperating in the management of the event. It was a short distance of 6 kilometers, but all participants, regardless of age or disability, from children to the elderly, seemed to enjoy running. It was very hot that day (37-38℃), but I was impressed by the fact that everyone finished the race in good spirits. After all, it is exciting to see various people enjoying sports at the site, and I think this motivates the staff.
 We would like to create an environment where people from all walks of life can enjoy sports, and we would like to communicate with para- and deaf- athletes so that we can unite them in athletics. I hope that we can be the link between the two.

-What were some of the challenges you faced during the preparation phase of the Mass Race?

Matsuda-san As is the case with large marathon events such as the Tokyo Marathon, the point is that “we take over the course and let the public run on it.” Since it is only through cooperation and collaboration with local people that the organizing committee can communicate with such related organizations, the key point was to follow up with them as a partner, making use of our knowledge and expertise. I hope to work closely with the Organizing Committee for the 2025 Tokyo Games as well, sharing various thoughts and ideas with them. Tokyo is a large and crowded city. I would like to make sure that the Tokyo Games attracts the attention of the people of Tokyo, while placing emphasis on “steady management” and “safety first.

-What episodes have you witnessed on the World Championships stage that you will never forget?

Matsuda-san That was Haruka Kitaguchi’s last throw in the javelin at Budapest. I was watching the event on site, and I got goosebumps at the moment the record was set! It is wonderful to see such a scene in Tokyo two years later, isn’t it? Well, it was amazing! Before the last throw, she had not been getting good records, but the last throw’s javelin flew far away. When the result was announced, there were many Japanese people around my seat, so the cheers were outrageous…. It was really great, and when the foreigners saw us Japanese getting excited, they stood up and got excited with us. It was really a wonderful moment! 

Kitaguchi, who has been in the memory for a long time, brings home the gold medal in the last throw at the Budapest 2023 World Championships in Athletics.
©Getty Images for World Athletics

-From here, we would like to touch on a more personal aspect of your life. How did you come to join ASICS?

Matsuda-san My hometown is Kobe. The head office of ASICS was also located in Kobe, and at that time our factory was in Nagata, where I used to go on social studies field trips when I was in elementary school. I also played basketball from elementary school all the way through college, and there was a tournament called the “Onitsuka Cup” named after Kihachiro Onizuka, and product development people brought samples to my high school, so I was familiar with ASICS from a young age. For some reason, I had a vague idea that I wanted to join ASICS from the time I was in junior high school. I liked sports, so when I entered university, I started job hunting and was lucky enough to join ASICS. 
I think that companies in Kobe are contributing to local community development in their respective fields, and I think that ASICS was playing a part in sports. Onizuka-san, the founder of the company, originally wanted to contribute to the local community and to sports not only in Kobe but also in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, and the world. I feel that this is what led to my desire to work for ASICS.

-As General Manager of the Sports Marketing Department, what is the appeal and satisfaction of your job?

Matsuda-san When I was a student, I wondered dimly, “It is the right path for me to contribute to society as a member of society through sports as a job.” And after I joined the company, I have been thinking about “What is sports marketing?” for 23 years.
In my mind, sports marketing has two roles. One role is to market through sports, to raise the brand value as ASICS and to increase sales. The other role is to “market sports.” When Onizuka-san listened to the opinions of the Sports Association and thought about what the local children and community needed, the answer was sports. Therefore, I also wanted to contribute to the local community by improving the sport itself. I work here because I think that the Sports Marketing Department is the only department where I can work on such things and actually deal with sports. That is the most attractive point.

-As an official partner, what are your company’s unique strengths and commitment?

Matsuda-san The most important thing for us as members of the Sports Marketing Department is “Kihachiro Onizuka’s thoughts.” We have a strong feeling that “because such a great person existed, we must act appropriately as an ASICS employee.” The other thing is that “we listen to athletes’ opinions and make the most of the data we have accumulated to create products suited to athletes.” I also think that one of our strengths is that “we provide not only products but also services”. I feel that we are very proud of this.

-Do you sometimes argue with athletes?

Matsuda-san Of course, of course! They can say, “It doesn’t fit,” “I want it to be more like this,” “No, no, no, it’s not like that, it’s like this”. Athletes express their thoughts in order to improve their own abilities and records, and we absorb their thoughts and ideas and translate them into our manufacturing. We are focusing on “as partners, we will promote activities based on a mutual understanding of each other’s issues.”

-With the World Championships in Athletics to be held in Tokyo in 2025, what are your goals and challenges as an official partner?

Matsuda-san Our first goal is to support athletes in their endeavors. Secondly, we will create innovative products and services that will be promoted to the public. The third goal is to create an environment that will enable us to provide such products and services on a sustainable basis by 2025. These three are our major goals.
As for challenges, there are manufacturing toward 2025 and a system that can provide services sustainably. “How can we offer them widely and globally?”, “What can the Sports Marketing Department do?” I would like to discuss and deepen these issues with the members of the department.

-What is your vision of the kind of society you want to create through sports?

Matsuda-san Our company is promoting “VISION2030″* with the desire to “create an environment where everyone can enjoy sports for a lifetime.” This means that we are not only engaged in “monozukuri” (manufacturing), but also in “koto zukuri.” We would like to build a relationship with the organizing committee and athletes, with whom we have a partnership, so that they understand the issues we face and we can work together to solve them. I believe this is one of the major goals of our activities as the Sports Marketing Department.
※”With the aim of realizing a world where everyone can continue to be physically and mentally healthy throughout their lives through sports and exercise” by 2030, we set a guideline for business areas that we will focus on products (products), providing places (facilities and communities), and utilizing data (analysis and diagnosis). 

-What actions do you want to take for the World Athletics Championships Tokyo 25 ?

Matsuda-san I think that going to the National Stadium, the venue of the games, should be one of the “pleasures” of the event. How can we create an environment where people want to go and cheer for athletes they know and want to watch? The athletes’ dynamism, movement, and the sounds they make are thrilling to listen to on site, so how can we make people feel that? I think it is important to let people know more about the athletes and the competitions.
The 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held in 2024, so how can we build on the excitement of the Olympics and Paralympics to the World Championships in Athletics the following year? How can we create an environment that will allow the athletes participating in the Deaflympics to be known in the same way? I think this will probably lead to the “realization of a symbiotic society,” where we can create an environment where people can understand each other and enjoy sports.
 
-What are the advantages of an event unique to Tokyo?

Matsuda-san Tokyo is a safe and secure city, and we can hold events without fail. I think Tokyo has an advantage in that it is the only place in the world where people can come and enjoy the games without stress. I think this is Tokyo’s strength, and something that only Tokyo can offer. Both athletes and spectators can enjoy the tournament in peace.
The other thing is that Japanese volunteers have a strong spirit of hospitality towards visitors from overseas. When I look at the volunteers, I think, “Oh, how wonderful to be Japanese!” Many of them think and behave like “how can I make people enjoy themselves”, “how can I make them feel good about Japan and Tokyo, and what should we Japanese do to make that happen?” When that happens, I think, “Japan is so nice. “
On the other hand, I also think that Japanese people do not yet know how to enjoy sports. In Europe, even a small record is very exciting. In Japan, however, people just sit around and crack up a little. It would be better if they weren’t more reserved, or if they showed more emotion. In Japan, there is a lot of organized cheering. For example, people cheer to the leader’s call. In contrast, we are not very good at getting excited by ourselves…. This is a good thing, and it is also the reason why order is maintained, but I hope that we can create an environment where people are not embarrassed to cheer alone and can enhance the excitement of the event.

-As an official partner of World Athletics Championships Tokyo 25 in Athletics, a message to our readers. 

Matsuda-san I think that the sight of athletes in action is a common emotion, even if they are from different countries and cultures. It is a rare opportunity to actually see them in Tokyo. So please come to the National Stadium and watch the games with us! As an official partner ASICS, we are also making preparations for the coming year, and we are currently working on products and services that will bring joy to everyone in 2025. Let us all look forward to the year 2025 with anticipation!

Takumi Matsuda / Born in Hyogo

ASICS Corporation
General Manager, Sports Marketing Department, Sports Marketing Division (Joined the company in 2001)
※As of December 2023

He played basketball from elementary school through junior high school, high school, and college.
He was attracted to the idea of cooperating with friends to achieve victory and tackling things as a team and spent his time practicing every day.
After joining the company, he worked in the sports marketing department for about 10 years, where he was in charge of soccer, track and field, and running. After that, he worked in the business strategy department, as a secretary, and in the start-up and operation of a fitness gym. During the 2nd Tokyo Marathon, he was transferred to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to prepare for the event as a member of the secretariat.
Currently in charge of global sports marketing, in addition to supporting athletes, teams, and athletic organizations, he is in charge of activities utilizing international sporting events such as the Olympic and Paralympic Games, World Championships in Athletics, and World Para-Athletics, working with internal and external members to achieve goals.

<Web>
https://www.asics.com/jp/ja-jp/
<X>
@ASICS_JP:https://twitter.com/ASICS_JP
<Instagram>
asics_japan:https://www.instagram.com/asics_japan/

New Post

Masaki Maruyama – Is this a mystery novel?

2024.05.20

His novel “Deaf Voice” was chosen at the final selection of the Matsumoto Seicho Award which was his first nov […]

Masaki Maruyama – Is this a mystery novel?

2024.05.20

His novel “Deaf Voice” was chosen at the final selection of the Matsumoto Seicho Award which was his first nov […]

Masaki Maruyama – Is this a mystery novel?

2024.05.20

His novel “Deaf Voice” was chosen at the final selection of the Matsumoto Seicho Award which was his first nov […]

Masato Yokota – Beyond JAAF: Changing the conventional concept of “running, watching, and supporting” athletics.

2024.04.03

He is an outlier in the world of Japanese track and field. A former Japanese record holder in the men’s […]

Masato Yokota – Beyond JAAF: Changing the conventional concept of “running, watching, and supporting” athletics.

2024.04.03

He is an outlier in the world of Japanese track and field. A former Japanese record holder in the men’s […]

Masato Yokota – Beyond JAAF: Changing the conventional concept of “running, watching, and supporting” athletics.

2024.04.03

He is an outlier in the world of Japanese track and field. A former Japanese record holder in the men’s […]