Maui Business

Former Central Pacific Bank chairman and CEO Joichi Saito dies from cancer at age 86

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Joichi Sato. Photo Courtesy: Central Pacific Bank

Joichi Saito, former Central Pacific Bank Chairman and CEO, die March 18, 2022 after a courageous battle with cancer. He was 86.

Saito was born in Takao, Taiwan.  After graduating from Hitotsubashi University in 1959, he started his banking career at The Sumitomo Bank in Japan.  His Sumitomo career included multiple assignments at locations in Japan, California and Washington state before being appointed Chairman and CEO of Central Pacific Bank (CPB) in 1996.

Under Saito’s leadership, CPB became one of the strongest financial institutions in Hawaiʻi. He retired in 2002 and was named Chairman Emeritus and Senior Advisor.  At the time of his retirement, CPB was nationally recognized as one of the top performing banks in the country.

Saito will be remembered for his strong business acumen and his keen focus on the development and well-being of his employees. Everyone appreciated his easy-going manner and warm smile. 

His reputation for strong leadership and genuine care for the Hawaiʻi community led to invitations to help lead multiple organizations across the state.  He served as director for the Hawaiʻi State Chapter of the American Red Cross, Benefit Services Hawaiʻi, the East-West Center Foundation, Hawaiʻi Community Reinvestment Corporation, Hawaiʻi Employers Council and the Honolulu Symphony.

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Never forgetting his strong Japanese ties, Saito continued his efforts to support the promotion of Japan and US relations in Hawaiʻi.  He served on various boards of prominent Japanese business organizations, including Chairman of the Board of the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce during its 100th anniversary year, Japan-American Society of Hawaiʻi, the Prince Akihito Scholarship Foundation, Kuakini Health System, the Pacific and Asian Affairs Council, Nippon Club and the United Japanese Society.  He established the Japan Sports Fukiya Association in Hawaiʻi and served as its president.  He was also the President of Hawaiʻi Yamagata Kenjinkai from 2013 to 2021.

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In 2014, Mr. Saito received the Foreign Minister’s Commendation from the Japanese Government for his outstanding contribution to the promotion of mutual understanding and friendly relations between Japan and other countries through economic and technical cooperation, information and cultural activities to enhance international relations.  In 2016, he received recognition from the Emperor of Japan when he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette Medal.

“Mr. Saito was a man of great stature and vision at CPB and played a key role in the growth of the company,” CPB Executive Chair Paul Yonamine said. “Perhaps his most important quality was the trust he had with employees and community leaders. His commitment to making Hawaiʻi a better place was evident in everything he did. He will be missed.”

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