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Fri, Jun 03, 2005 - Page 12 News List

Instant noodles creator steps down

PIONEER Inspired by Japan's post-WWII plight, Momofuku Ando saw his product become a common fixture on store shelves around the world


Momofuku Ando, the man credited with inventing instant noodles, will bow out of the business frontline at age 95 after seeing his cups of quick, hot and inexpensive meals sweep the world.

The entrepreneur who entered the food business when Japan was hungry after World War II lived to watch his invention stock on the shelves of omnipresent convenience stores and become an international favorite for people on the go.

Ando, who remains in excellent health and comes to the office every day, will resign as chairman and representative director at Nissin Food Products Co on June 29 at his own request, said the company in the western city of Osaka.

Born in 1910, the business tycoon founded the predecessor to Nissin Food Products in 1948 and invented the world's first instant noodle, Chicken Ramen noodles sold in bags, in 1958.

He launched the cupped version in 1971. As "Cup Noodles" have swept the world -- and been widely replicated -- the Nissin group now boasts annual sales exceeding 300 billion yen (US$2.7 billion).

"I am 95 years old. I have lived for nearly a century," Ando said in a statement on his resignation, noting he sometimes "bothered other people" or got "tossed about by the waves of the time" before and after World War II.

"I decided to devote myself to the food business when I saw people starving to death amid a post-war food shortage. I was sure the world could be peaceful only after having enough food. I invented instant noodles ... because I could imagine how happy people would be if I delivered to households Ramen they can eat any time, anywhere and safely. It was as simple as that," he said.

The resignation does not mean he will retire, though.

"The company accepted his resignation. But he agreed to hold a newly created post of `founding chairman' and keep advising the company from a broad perspective," a spokesman said.

Ando will continue to head the foundation he established to promote sports and food culture for children. A cheerful Ando received high-profile guests including former prime minister Yasuhiro Nakasone and Osaka Governor Fusae Ota when he unveiled his refurbished Instant Ramen Museum in Osaka last November. The museum, originally opened in November 1999, displays the pedigree of Nissin instant noodles and actual packages.

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