An executive from the parent company of Putnam County's Diamond Electric plant died last week in his home country of Japan. Shigeji Ikenaga, CEO of Diamond Electric Manufacturing Co., which operates an ignition coil manufacturing plant in Eleanor, died Aug. 7 at the age of 82, according to a statement from the company.Ikenaga was the first citizen of Japan to be recognized as an Honorary West Virginian, according to the statement.Diamond Electric has facilities throughout the world including one in Eleanor. The company's U.S. operation is headquartered in Dundee, Mich., while the Japanese headquarters is in Osaka.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said he had known Ikenaga for years and worked with him to bring the company to West Virginia 16 years ago."He was a devoted man and a good friend," Rockefeller said in a prepared statement. "He made sure that Diamond Electric was a responsible company that contributed to the communities around its facilities - and Putnam County could certainly see that."Because of his hard work with Diamond Electric, West Virginia became one of the leading automotive manufacturing centers on the East Coast. I have no doubt that he knows Diamond Electric is in good hands with his sons playing major roles in the company."Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., offered his sympathy to Diamond Electric in a prepared statement. "I will always be appreciative of the kindness Mr. Shigeji Ikenaga showed me, Gayle and the entire West Virginia delegation when we met with him in Japan in 2005," Manchin said in the statement.