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Nintendo CEO to miss shareholders meeting after surgery

Satoru Iwata is recovering from surgery to remove a tumor but is already handling some work while on the mend.

Nintendo President and CEO Satoru Iwata. Nintendo Direct

Nintendo Chief Executive Satoru Iwata will miss his company's annual shareholders meeting, due to health issues.

Iwata announced Tuesday that he recently underwent surgery to remove a tumor lodged in his bile duct. While the surgery went "well," he will be unable to attend his company's annual shareholders meeting on June 27.

"I have no choice but to miss the company's very important activity, the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders, to be held this month," Iwata wrote to shareholders on Tuesday. "As the president of the company, I regret that I cannot attend the meeting. However, I understand that I have to prioritize my medical treatment and to recover as soon as possible so that I will again be able to do my best to help the company to grow. I hope that you understand."

Iwata would have likely faced backlash at the annual shareholders meeting. Nintendo's Wii U sales have fallen off a cliff, selling just 2.72 million units in the fiscal year that ended March 31. Its lifetime sales stand at 6.17 million compared to the 7 million Sony PlayStation 4 units sold and 5 million Microsoft Xbox One consoles shipped to retailers in just six months on the market. The Nintendo 3DS is also not performing as well as the game firm would have liked.

Nintendo posted a loss of $457 million for its fiscal year that ended March 31 -- making it the third year in a row of losses for the company.

Iwata believes his company can make it through the toughest of times by pushing more first-party titles to its hardware. He also believes that the Wii U will eventually catch on. An increasing number of industry analysts, however, are not so sure.

Iwata didn't say in his letter to investors when he will officially come back to work but said he's back to handling "business by email and by other means," despite having surgery last week.

"Mr. Iwata had surgery the week of June 16, and came through it well, as predicted," Nintendo said in a statement. "It is anticipated that a little more time is needed for him to return to his regular work schedule."