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Nintendo appoints a new president amid corporate reorganization

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Two months after Satoru Iwata's death, Nintendo names a successor

Nintendo's new president will be Tatsumi Kimishima, the company announced today alongside a corporate reorganization — two moves that are designed to "strengthen and enhance the management structure of the Company," according to a statement from Nintendo.

Kimishima, 65, will be the fifth president of Nintendo. He will succeed Satoru Iwata, who had served in the role from May 2002 until his death in July at the age of 55. In the interim, Shigeru Miyamoto and Genyo Takeda have been running Nintendo.

Kimishima began his career in 1973 in the Japanese banking industry, and entered the video game business in December 2000, when he joined The Pokémon Company as its chief financial officer. He was appointed the president of Nintendo of America in January 2002, and became CEO and chairman of Nintendo of America in May 2006 while Reggie Fils-Aime took over as president. Since June 2013, Kimishima has served as the managing director of Nintendo, as well as the general manager of the company's General Affairs Division and its Corporate Analysis & Administration Division. He also became the managing director of Nintendo's human resources branch in June 2014.

Tatsumi Kimishima portrait 150
Tatsumi Kimishima

Nintendo's board of directors agreed upon Kimishima's promotion to president during a meeting today. The board also decided to revise the roles of many Nintendo executives in what the statement called a "large-scale revision of the organizational structure of the Company."

Takeda, who was one of the architects of the Wii, will take the title of "technology fellow," while Miyamoto, the famed game designer, will become Nintendo's "creative fellow." Nintendo's statement defined the new role of "fellow" as "an individual selected from among the Representative Directors who has advanced knowledge and extensive experience, and holds the role of providing advice and guidance regarding organizational operations in a specialized area."

Shigeyuki Takahashi, who had been the general manager of Nintendo's Finance Administration Division, is taking on two additional positions: He will become the supervisor of the General Affairs Division, and will also be in charge of Nintendo's quality assurance department. Satoshi Yamato, currently the general manager of Nintendo's marketing division, will now be in charge of its advertising department as well. And Shinya Takahashi will become the general manager of Nintendo's Entertainment Planning & Development Division, as well as the supervisor of the company's Business Development Division and its Development Administration & Support Division. Takahashi is currently the general manager of Nintendo's Software Planning & Development Division, and is in charge of the company's Development Administration & Support Division.

"We aim to strengthen and enhance the management structure of the Company following President Satoru Iwata's passing"

The reorganization, including Kimishima's promotion to president and all the other role changes, will take effect Sept. 16.

It remains to be seen if Kimishima will be as much of a public-facing leader of Nintendo as Iwata was. In addition to speaking at E3 and the Game Developers Conference, Iwata made many memorable appearances on video in the company's regular Nintendo Direct presentations, showing off his more playful side. He also hosted "Iwata Asks" Q&A sessions, in which he sat down with Nintendo officials and others to discuss the history of Nintendo's hardware and software.

Either way, Kimishima will have to navigate a challenging and interesting road ahead for Nintendo. Sales of the Wii U are sitting just above a paltry 10 million units worldwide, while Nintendo 3DS sales are slackening as the pace of new game releases slows. Nintendo announced its next gaming hardware, which is code-named the "NX," this past March, but Iwata said in May that the company wasn't planning to discuss the system further until 2016.

Iwata had also announced a partnership with the company DeNA to produce mobile games based on Nintendo properties. He later said that Nintendo expected to release its first mobile game by the end of this year, and five titles by March 2017. Nintendo's statement gave no indication on how Kimishima plans to continue with these two initiatives, although an analyst told Bloomberg that Kimishima is an "orthodox choice, which sends a message that the company is choosing to stay the course."