【METRICAL】Corporate Governance in Japan Is Improving, but Has yet to Take Steps to Create Value

Metrical provides monthly corporate governance assessments of approximately 1,800 companies, primarily prime market listed companies. This year, continuing on from last year, we would like to see how much progress has been made in corporate governance initiatives by listed companies over the past year.

We analyzed how much the 1,788 companies in the comparable Metrical universe improved in each evaluation category between December 31, 2022 and December 31, 2023. The table below shows the Metrical CG score, which is the overall corporate governance score, the average ROE and ROE over the past three years, the change in Tobin’s Q and foreign shareholding ratio in December 2022, December 2023, and change from 2022 to 2023, and the mean and median values.

【METRICAL】Companies Are Finally at the Starting Line of Taking the First Steps to Improve ROE

On October 26, 2023, the TSE released the “Publication of the List of Disclosed Companies Regarding “Measures to Achieve Management Conscious of Cost of Capital and Stock Prices.” I would like to provide an overview of this document below and consider the issues it discusses.

1. Future initiatives regarding “measures to realize management conscious of cost of capital and stock price”
Publication of the list of disclosing companies, and re-communication of the purpose and points to be noted.
 Publication of a list of companies disclosing information in accordance with the request, with a view to informing investors of the status of companies that are taking steps to comply and to encourage their efforts. The list will be published on January 15, 2024, and will be updated monthly.

【Metrical】Percentage of Female Board Members Is a Measure of a Company’s Seriousness About Improving Its Practices

Following the previous analysis of the ratio of independent directors, here is an analysis of the ratio of female board members. As you know, the Japanese government has set a target of increasing the ratio of female board members ( board directors, statutory executive officers, and statutory auditors) to 30% by 2030 for companies listed on the prime market. Using data from the Metrical Universe at the end of September, I will examine the characteristics of each group in terms of the ratio of female board members.

Of the 1,781 companies in the Metrical Universe at the end of September, 74 (4.2%) have achieved a ratio of 30% or more female directors. The government and TSE have also set an intermediate goal of appointing at least one female board member by 2025. 1,567 (88%) of the 1,781 companies in the Metrical Universe at the end of September have at least one female board member. The 1,781 companies in the Metrical universe also include companies listed outside the prime market. It also includes companies like Canon that are expected to appoint female board members at future AGMs, so it is likely that the majority of prime market listed companies will have appointed female board members by 2025.

METRICAL:Companies with over 50% Independent Directors Have High Profitability and Stock Valuations

The ratio of independent directors is on the rise, with the number of companies with a majority of independent directors (more than 50%) increasing to 280 out of the 1,781 companies in the Metrical Universe at the end of September 2023. I would like to examine the characteristics of companies with a majority of independent directors.

The chart below shows the number of companies in the Metrical universe with a majority of independent directors (more than 50% independent directors). Since there are less than 1,800 companies in the Metrical universe, the percentage of companies in the universe with a majority of independent directors (more than 50%) has just risen to 15.7% as of the end of September 2023, so it will take some time before a majority of companies have a majority of independent directors on their boards. It is likely to take some time before the majority of companies have a majority of independent directors on their boards. However, the number of such companies is gradually increasing.

METRICAL:CG Stock Performance (Japan): October 2023

In October, the stock market was in step with the U.S. stock market, which rose and fell in response to changes in U.S. long-term interest rates, and after a decline at the beginning of the month and a rebound in the middle of the month, the stock market was in a selling trend toward the end of the month.
The CG Top 20 index outperformed the TOPIX and JPX400 indexes for the second consecutive month in October.

METRICAL: Disclosure of Management Strategies with Cost of Capital and Stock Price in Mind Is Still Limited

TSE has released the material “Status of Companies’ Responses and Follow-up on “Responses to Achieve Management Conscious of Cost of Capital and Stock Prices” at the 11th Follow-up Meeting on Revision of Market Classification held on August 29, 2023. I would like to provide a summary of this document below and consider the issues discussed.

Status of display regarding “Measures to realize management conscious of cost of capital and stock price”
 Based on the corporate governance reports* of listed companies in light of the recent request for “measures to realize management with awareness of cost of capital and stock price” (compiled as of mid-July, when the CG reports of companies whose fiscal year ended in March were available).
※ The current request does not specify the documents to be disclosed, but requires that a statement be made in the CG report to the effect that disclosure has been made and the method of access to such disclosure.

Solving Gender Gap in Higher Education Is Key, as Political Leadership Can’t Be Count On

The World Economic Forum (WEF) released its Gender Gap Report on June 21. I would like to discuss Japan’s ranking in the Gender Gap Index.

Japan’s ranking in the Gender Gap Index is as follows.
Among the G7 countries, Germany was the top-ranked country in 6th place, up four places from 10th the previous year. It was followed by the United Kingdom (15th), Canada (30th), France (40th), the United States (43rd), and Italy (79th). Japan was the only country that did not even make the top 100, falling nine places from 116th the previous year to its lowest ranking ever. The percentage of women in parliamentary and ministerial positions is low, and the country is in the lowest group in the political field, ranking 138th. Japan also ranked 123rd in the economic field, reflecting the labor participation rate and the gender gap in wages. In the education sector, the country also fell in rank to 47th place due to a lower enrollment rate of women in higher education.

The Gender Equality Bureau of the Cabinet Office, which promotes “women’s activities” rather than gender equality, usually posts a statement on the Gender Gap Index on its website, but although Japan’s ranking in the Gender Gap Index of 125th/146th countries (announced on June 21, 2023) is posted, the rankings for each field have not yet updated as of June 24.

Discussion Point 1: “Japan’s ranking in the Gender Gap Index is 125th/146th, a drop of nine places from 116th place last year and a record low.”
Since the Gender Gap Index rankings are relative, it is only natural that the country’s ranking would be lower than the speed at which the gender gap in other countries is improving. The main reason for this is that the ranking in the areas of “Politics” and “Economy” has not improved at all from its very low ranking position, compared to “Education” (99.7%) and “Access to Health Care” (97.3%), when looked at by sector.

METRICAL: Share Buybacks Are Likely Due to Reduction of Shares in Retirement Benefit Trusts and Policy Holdings

Since the disclosure regarding retirement benefit trusts was made by NSK on April 20, I would like to share my thoughts on the issue of policy shareholdings and deemed shareholdings held in retirement benefit trusts.

On April 20, NSK issued a disclosure titled “Notice of Partial Return of Retirement Benefit Trust.” The contents of this disclosure were as follows: “The pension assets including the retirement benefit trust are significantly overfunded in relation to the retirement benefit obligation, and this situation is expected to continue in the future, so we sold part of the shares in the trust in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2023. The partial return of the retirement benefit trust is expected to result in an extraordinary gain of approximately 10 billion yen in the non-consolidated accounts (there will be no impact on the consolidated income statement for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2024).”

METRICAL : CG Stock Performance (Japan) for April 2023

The solid U.S. stock market, which has settled down from last month’s financial system unrest, led Japanese stocks to move higher toward the end of the month.
The CG Top20 stock price index significantly outperformed both TOPIX and JPX400 for the second consecutive month.

The stock market rallied toward the end of the month on the strength of U.S. stock prices as U.S. stocks gradually calmed down from the financial system unrest triggered by the failure of the Silicon Valley Bank in the U.S. On the last day of the month, the Bank of Japan’s monetary policy meeting maintained monetary easing, and stock prices rose sharply.

METRICAL: How Far Has Corporate Governance Progressed in 2022? (1) ~ Board Practices Section

Metrical provides monthly corporate governance assessments of approximately 1,700 companies with market capitalization exceeding approximately 10 billion yen, primarily those listed on the TSE 1st Section. This year, continuing on from last year, I would like to see how far listed companies have progressed in their corporate governance efforts over the past year.

The chart below shows the changes in each of the evaluation items for approximately 1,700 companies in the Metrical Universe over the past 3 years (December 2020, December 2021, and December 2022). Metrical divides the evaluation items into Board Practices and Key Actions. This time, I will look at the Board Practices section. Let’s take a look at them in order.

The first chart shows the distribution of Metrical CG scores, which represent the overall corporate governance rating of a listed company across a number of corporate governance measures. The distribution of scores in December 2022 is indicated by purple bars. distribution of the bars shows that the distribution of the bars moves to the right (toward higher scores) with each subsequent year, from December 2020, December 2021, and December 2022. It can be inferred that listed companies have advanced their corporate governance initiatives in response to the revision of the Corporate Governance Code in 2021 and the market reorganization of the TSE in 2022. Let’s take a look at the contents of these efforts by evaluation item below.