Norio Sueyoshi, former president and chairman of one of the world’s largest Coca-Cola bottlers, passed away on March 5. He was 71. 

Revered as a legend in the Japanese Coca-Cola system, Sueyoshi worked for Coca-Cola bottling organizations for almost 49 years. He started his Coca-Cola career in 1967 with Nichibei Coca-Cola Bottling Co., Ltd. (now Coca-Cola West). Thirty-five years later, in 2002, he became president of Coca-Cola West Japan. 

Sueyoshi and current Coca-Cola West President Tamio Yoshimatsu were responsible for establishing the entity known today as Coca-Cola West. One of seven Coca-Cola bottlers in Japan, the Fukuoka-based company serves 30 percent of the country’s population in 22 prefectures in Kansai, Chugoku, Shikoku and Kyushu. 

A respected pillar of the local and national business community, Sueyoshi served as chairman of the Fukuoka Chamber of Commerce from 2011 to 2015, and as vice-chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce. 

“The Coca-Cola system in Japan has lost a passionate patriot and tireless leader,” said Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO, The Coca-Cola Company. “We will all miss him dearly, and his legacy will live on.”