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Listed firms in Japan actively hiring women as outside directors

  • June 25, 2022
  • , Jiji Press , 3:50 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, June 25 (Jiji Press)–More and more publicly traded companies in Japan are actively appointing women as outside directors, induced by the country’s stricter corporate governance code and pressure from investors.

 

Business experts, an environmentalist, a freelance newscaster and an Olympic medalist were among new female outside directors welcomed to corporate boards this year.

 

While companies are making their boards more diverse, Yutaka Suzuki, chief researcher at Daiwa Institute of Research Ltd., said they should choose the right people for the task regardless of their gender, instead of simply making up the number.

 

Control equipment maker IDEC Crop. <6652> increased the number of its female outside directors to three from one, newly picking experts on information technology and the environment, fields where the company plans to put more efforts.

 

Central Japan Railway Co. <9022>, or JR Tokai, appointed freelance newscaster Hiroko Kiba as an outside director, making her the first female board member of the company.

 

JR Tokai President Shin Kaneko said he expects helpful advice from Kiba, given that she has a wide range of experience including serving as a member of a government council.

 

Cleaning service firm Duskin Co. <4665> added one more female outside director to its board, making three out of its nine directors women. The extraordinary high proportion for a Japanese company is a result of Duskin seeking globally minded talent, a company official said.

 

The increasing appointment of female outside directors came after the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s corporate governance code, updated in June last year, requires listed companies to present their targets in relation to the appointment of women.

 

Investors are also paying attention to the issue. JPMorgan Asset Management (Japan) Ltd. has said it would oppose a slate of board candidates in principle when a woman is not included.

 

Real estate developer Starts Corp. <8850> named Olympic marathon gold medalist Naoko Takahashi as an outside director.

 

Cota Co., a maker of cosmetics for hair salons, picked a transgender outside director. “We expect advice on utilizing diverse workforce as well as research and development,” a Cota official said.

 

As of July last year, 732, or about 30 pct of companies listed on the TSE’s now-defunct first section, did not have a female board member, according to the Cabinet Office. This proportion is expected to shrink after shareholders’ meetings in June.

 

Suzuki said the most important thing is for companies to choose the people suitable for themselves. “It’s meaningless if they are just trying to make up the number,” he said.

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