Nippon Keidanren Taps Canon Boss as New Leader
12, 05. 2005
Fujio Mitarai, president of Canon Inc., is to be elected Chairman of Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), Japan's leading business organization, at its general assembly scheduled for May 2006. Up to now, Keidanren has usually chosen its leader from major 'broad and deep' basic industries such as steel, power and heavy electrical machinery. But Mitarai comes from an IT-related company that produces digital cameras and other precision equipment, and has also lived in the United States for 23 years. He will be the first ever chairman of Nippon Keidanren from the pro-America camp of Japanese businessmen.
Another Toyota Man Initially the Favorite
Fujio Mitarai, President of Canon, is to be elected Chairman of Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), Japan's leading business organization.
In addition to Mitarai, current Keidanren Chairman Hiroshi Okuda had eyed Toyota Motor Corp. Vice-Chairman Fujio Cho and Hitachi, Ltd. President Etsuhiko Shoyama as his successor. His favored candidate was Cho. Although both are Toyota men, Cho knows a lot about Keidanren because, as Toyota vice president, he served as No. 2 to fellow Toyota top-ranker Shoichiro Toyoda when he was chairman of Keidanren (currently Toyoda is Keidanren's honorary chairman). Cho has a calm personality and few enemies, characteristics which earned him wide support from all quarters as a possible Keidanren leader. But Toyoda warned Okuda that another Toyota man in the top spot could prompt strong objections from business circles, and urged that somebody else be chosen-as early as possible, as the longer the selection took the harder it would be to find somebody as suitable as Cho.
Dislike of Political Donations Could be Stumbling Block
Mitarai would be the first Canon man to lead one of Japan's influential business organizations. Ryuzaburo Kaku, a former Canon president, once served as vice-representative of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai). He was initially reluctant to take up the Keizai Doyukai post, saying publicly that he disliked the organization's political activities. But then-leader Takashi Ishihara persuaded him to change his mind.