BDTI Announcement: Telework and e-Learning

To All of BDTI’s Supporters and Participants

Thank you for your support of our many programs and activities at BDTI. As you know, many organizations are switching to telework, and so we think now is a good time for companies to use the transition to telework as an opportunity to train managers in low-cost ways–for example by purchasing our “unlimited-use” e-Learning. ( ) For a low price of 300,000 yen, the “unlimited use” e-Learning package enables all employees (any number!) at a company or its subsidiaries to learn the most important aspects of the Companies Law, Securities Law, and Corporate Governance (general module, and practice module). This is a total of almost 10 hours of instruction which can be done at one’s own pace at home, and–if we say so ourselves–is very good value for money.    

Starting tomorrow, we will be leading by example as we move to a telework arrangement for all of our employees. Someone (myself) will remain in the office during most regular working hours to answer the phone and all employees will be able to respond to your e-mail communication in a normal manner. As we transition to this new working arrangement, we do ask for your patience and understanding and apologize in advance for any inconvenience.

Additionally, you may look forward to several webinars and online training opportunities over Zoom which we will announce as plans are finalized.

Professor Hideaki Miyajima: Activist Shareholders and Companies: Improving the Effectiveness of Management Reform

“…the probability of the success of activism (as described above) accompanied by official requests for activity has not yet reached that of Europe and the United States but has risen to 40%. In addition, the cumulative abnormal return (CAR) when such requests are accepted is about 6%, the same as in the United States and Europe….

Finally, let us consider the keys to improving corporate governance in Japan in the future…..

Nikkei Asia: Activist Funds Defeated at Kirin and Toshiba Machine

“IFP’s challenge, however, highlighted weaknesses at Kirin, whose expansion has produced mixed results, analysts said. One of the director nominees recommended by IFP, corporate governance expert Nicholas Benes, won 35% of shareholders’ votes despite opposition from Kirin, suggesting some shareholders agreed the board needed more change.

Why Modern Corporate Structure Results in Large Ethical Lapses

I was recently asked by the Japan Society of Greater Cincinnati to give the keynote speech at their conference event on the theme of “Why Good People Do Bad Things”. I decided to liven things up a bit by attempting to answer the self-posed question: “how might we design corporations if we were inventing them today [not in 1600 -1900]… in an age of huge capital pools, global warming, and an increasing number of other large externalized risks and informational (and other) asymmetries?”

See what you think of my “concept for discussion” on pages 16-19, and my reasons for throwing it out for consideration on the earlier pages. I realize some people will think this concept is a strange and unnecessary, as if the basic legal structure of the corporation is immutable, or hoping ESG integration by itself will solve most of the problems it is concerned with. However, I suspect that in the next few decades corporate law will be evolving much more so as to address the issues and concerns that I raise… even if it addresses them in a different manner. I do not believe that the present legal form of “the corporation” itself is sustainable. Over the past 100 years, too many agency problems, market distortions, asymmetries, and externalities have emerged.

Allow Japanese Citizens to Sponsor Foreign Domestic Workers

Prime Minister Abe’s requests to close schools nationwide, tele-work from home, and cancel sports events and public gatherings, have caused a great deal of strain on working mothers. More than ever before, now is the time when the Government of Japan (the GOJ) should be accelerating its stated policy to allow Japanese households to sponsor Foreign Domestic Workers (FDWs).

Women are being encouraged by the government to enter the labor force, with the expectation that they will become executives and join Boards of Directors. If the government expects to reach its own goal for women to constitute 10 percent all corporate directors during this year (2020), it will need to rapidly increase the range of “options” that women have for childcare and elderly care.

Memo to Shareholders of Kirin HD, from a Director Candidate

Independent Franchise Partners (IFP) has submitted a shareholder proposal nominating Kanako Kikuchi (an experienced global pharmaceutical executive) and myself as independent directors. Glass, Lewis supports electing both of us, but it seems that ISS has “split the baby” and only supports me. If investors could vote for Ms. Kikuchi as well, it would greatly help ensure that the board makes a fully informed, objective and independent assessment of the strategy on an ongoing basis.

Both of us have no past relations with IFP, and take an approach that is completely agnostic and independent of IFP’s dividend proposal. We both believe that if shareholders do not opt for that proposal, – or in any case – it is most prudent to withhold any decisions about the strategy until such time as when we are on the board and can ask questions and are privy to all internal analysis and confidential information. Therefore, we would both join the board with no pre-decision(s) made before knowing all the facts. This is the only logical position to take as a truly independent director. I have informed IFP in no uncertain terms that my philosophy and legal duty is to answer to all shareholders, and that I may well not agree with positions that IFP has taken or may take in the future. IFP has no problem with this.

Many investors may not realize that unless Ms. Kikuchi is elected, there will be no one with global biopharma experience on this board just at the time when that skill set is most needed. Given the company’s proclaimed strategy to “bridge” into health science products (which could be a good one for all I know), this is not wise and is of great concern to me.

METRICAL: February prices fell sharply due to concerns about the spread of Coronavirus. CG Top20 stock outperforms last month, keeping pace with Topix and JPX400

In February 2020, prices fell sharply in the world’s major stock markets by the end of the month, fearing that the spread of the coronavirus could spread to various parts of the world. Both Topix and JPX400 stock indices have fallen sharply to -0.59% and -0.57% respectively in the month of February. The Top20 CG rating score was -0.38%, outperforming the previous month, keeping the decline rate lower than both major stock indices. The stock prices of the 10 companies with the top 10 CG rating scores fell even less, at -0.34%.