Toho Studios chairman Isao Matsuoka will step down from his post after 12 years in the position and 52 years of service at the company.

Born in 1934, Matsuoka joined Toho in 1957 and soon headed up previous international offices in the US and Rome as well as working for Toho’s foreign film distribution subsidiary Toho-Towa.

Matsuoka became a studio executive in 1970. He moved up to the position of vice president in 1974 and president in 1977. Matsuoka was appointed chairman of the studios in 1995, a position he has held until today.

Matsuoka also serves as chairman of the Motion Pictures Producers Association of Japan and is a board member at Fuji Television and various industry organisations.

Matsuoka officially steps down from his position on May 28 upon expiration of his term of office and retirement.

In the late 1970s, Matsuoka’s subsequent creation of Toho’s film programming department and the consolidation of marketing, distribution and exhibition operations led to the company’s undisputed leadership in the territory today.

Toho’s acquisition of Virgin Cinemas in 2003 and the consolidation of its regional exhibition companies saw Toho amass the territory’s highest screen count, currently at 578 screens. As reported previously on Screendaily.com, Toho is investing heavily in digital film distribution.

In March 2007, Matsuoka received the ShoWest international lifetime achievement award at the annual industry event held in Las Vegas.

Eight of last year’s domestic top ten were distributed by Toho. The company earned $765m (Y73.91bn), representing 40.1% of the entire market in 2008. The figure broke previous records for the third consecutive year.

Meanwhile, Toho recently confirmed that it has pulled its advertising campaign for upcoming romantic drama Ballad Na Mo Naki Koi No Uta after lead actor and SMAP star Tsuyoshi Kusanagi was arrested for public indecency last week.