Nintendo's longtime president Satoru Iwata has died

Nintendo Co's President and Chief Executive Satoru Iwata attends an interview with Reuters in Tokyo in this file May 8, 2014 photo. REUTERS/Toru HanaiThomson ReutersIwata attends an interview in Tokyo

The president of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, has died at the age of 55, according to a press release from the company.

“Nintendo Co., Ltd. deeply regrets to announce that President Satoru Iwata passed away on July 11, 2015 due to a bile duct growth,” reads the statement.

Iwata underwent surgery last year to remove the growth and had resumed his duties after a brief period of recovery.

Iwata began his career as a freelance programmer for HAL Laboratory, a subsidiary of Nintendo, before joining HAL full-time after college. During his time at HAL, Iwata worked on games such as Balloon Fight and the Kirby and Earthbound franchises. He eventually became the president of HAL in 1993.

In 2000, Iwata joined Nintendo proper as the head of its corporate planning division. When Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi retired in 2002 (Yamauchi had been president since 1949), Iwata was picked to succeed as the fourth president of the company.

Iwata oversaw the development of the GameCube, the Wii, the DS, and the Wii U.

Iwata had been suffering from a ‘bile duct growth’ for at least over a year. Iwata was forced to skip last year’s E3 conference due to the same health problem.

A statement by Iwata released then read:

Thank you very much for your continued extraordinary support of us. I am Satoru Iwata, President of the company.

Today, there is one thing that I would like to share with you.

Recently, as the result of one of my routine physical examinations, an issue was detected. Following a more detailed examination, a growth was found in my bile duct.

In general, it is said that a bile duct growth can be difficult-to-treat, partly because of the difficulty of detecting it early. In my case, luckily, it was detected very early and I had no symptoms.

I was counseled that removal at an early stage would be the desirable medical option. Therefore I had surgery last week, and I came through it well, as predicted.

I have already resumed my business by email and by other means, but it is anticipated that a little more time is needed for me to return to my regular work schedule.

As a result, I have no choice but to miss the company’s very important activity, the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders, to be held this month. As the president of the company, I regret that I cannot attend the meeting. However, I understand that I have to prioritise my medical treatment and to recover as soon as possible so that I will again be able to do my best to help the company to grow. I hope that you understand.

Best Regards,

Satoru Iwata

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