LAS VEGAS, November 19, 2019 – It is with profound sadness that the Board of Aruze Gaming shares the news that Mr. Yoshiharu Kawaji, Advisor and Senior Vice President of Global Services and Engineering, passed away suddenly on November 11, 2019.
Mr. Kazuo Okada, Founder of Aruze Gaming said “We are deeply saddened with Kawaji-san’s sudden death. Our deepest sympathies are extended to his family. He began working for me upon leaving high school. I will miss his friendship and comradery.”
Mr. Masumi Fujisawa, Chairman of Aruze Gaming, said, “It was a great privilege to know Kawaji-san and work beside him for many years. He was known and respected for his achievements among his colleagues and within the gaming industry. Our condolences are with his wife, family, friends, and employees. He will be missed by all.”
Mr. Kawaji’s 36 years of contributions extended not only to Aruze Gaming but also to Universal Technology, Ltd. and Universal Distributing of Nevada, Inc., where one of his many accomplishments included the development of one of the company’s most successful games ever, Magnificent 7’s. He began as a software engineer for Mr. Okada in 1983 immediately following high school, with roles including Chief Engineer Slot Department. When Universal Distributing of Nevada, Inc. opened in Nevada in 1991 he relocated from Japan and helped grow Universal during the booming gaming market of that time.
As a core part of the management team through the transition from Universal Distributing of Nevada to Aruze Gaming America, Mr. Kawaji interacted with nearly every facet of the business. He held numerous titles during this time, mainly interacting with Operations and Research and Development, eventually becoming Vice President of Integration and then Senior Vice President of Integration for Aruze Gaming in 2015.
His most recent role, as Advisor and Senior Vice President of Global Service and Engineering, highlighted his many years of experience not just within Aruze, but in the gaming industry. In this role, he oversaw Product Compliance, Product Management, Sales Promotion and local R&D. Although he had continued to advise and work with game development through all his roles, this most recent position allowed him to share his passion in an official capacity.
“It was my honor to work alongside Kawaji-san for the past several years,” said Rob Ziems, President of Aruze Gaming America. “Kawaji-san was a tremendous advisor, mentor, and friend. He was a behind-the-scenes kind of guy whose contributions were felt by many and they didn’t even realize it. The gaming industry has lost one of its best kept secrets. He will be missed by many and his absence will be felt amongst the Aruze family and friends. Our sincerest condolences are with his wife and family.”