Nobutaka Shikanai; Built Japan's Largest Media Company

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Nobutaka Shikanai, who built the Fujisankei Communications Group into Japan's largest media company, died Sunday at age 78, the company announced from its London office.

He was instrumental in establishing the Praemium Imperiale awards, and his company reportedly paid $2 million to Ronald Reagan to visit Japan, where the former President attended the first awards ceremony--a fund-raiser for the Reagan Presidential Library--one year ago.

Shikanai died at Keio University Hospital in Tokyo. Cause of death was not reported.

Shikanai, born in Hokkaido, was a 1936 graduate of Tokyo's Waseda University.

In 1954, with the creation of the Nippon Broadcasting System, Shikanai began building the Fujisankei Communications Group, which describes itself as the world's fourth-largest media conglomerate. Its holdings include the Fuji Television Network Inc., the newspaper Sankei Shimbun, the Nippon (radio) Broadcasting System and record and video companies.

In 1989, he transferred the chairmanship of the group to his son and took the title of senior executive adviser.

He founded the Hakone Open-Air Museum in 1969 and the Utsukushi-ga-hara Open-Air Museum in 1981.

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