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Hitachi’s Nakanishi New Keidanren Chair
[2018.06.07]

Hitachi chairman Nakanishi Hiroaki has been appointed the fourteenth chair of Keidanren, which represents the interests of Japanese industry.

Hitachi chairman Nakanishi Hiroaki has been appointed the fourteenth chair of Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) as of May 31, 2018. Nakanishi became president of Hitachi in 2010, and then from 2014 assumed the position of chairman. Following the 2008 financial crisis, Hitachi was burdened with a large deficit. Nakanishi took a series of measures, including withdrawing from unprofitable business, and selection and concentration of business operations connected with telecommunications and social infrastructure projects. He reformed Hitachi’s business structure and successfully turned around its performance. Nakanishi has extensive international experience, having worked at US subsidiaries, and he has a wide network of business connections across Europe and the United States. Aside from his main business activities, he also serves as a member of the Council on Investments for the Future, established by the Japan Government in 2016 as part of economic growth strategy, and has a good relationship with the Abe administration.

The Keidanren chair serves for two terms over a period of four years. Although this position is no longer as powerful as it was during the high economic growth period, when the chair was regarded as the leader of big business in Japan, it represents the interests of industry along with acting as an advocate for public opinion. It also has an influence on national politics. For this reason, the announcement of a new chair is always a big event. There is an unwritten rule that the chair should be from a manufacturing background and only two former chairs have been from other industries, the third chairman Uemura Kōgorō (Keidanren Secretariat) and the seventh chairman Hiraiwa Gaishi (TEPCO).

Quite a number of chairs have come from Nippon Steel (now Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal), Toshiba Shibaura Electric (now Toshiba), and Toyota. The former chairman of Hitachi, Kawamura Takashi (now chairman of TEPCO Holdings) was regarded as the favourite to become Keidanren chair four years ago; however he declined due to advancing age. With the appointment of Nakanishi, this is the first time that a Hitachi executive has taken this post.

At one stage, it had been hoped by some that Toyota chairman Toyoda Akio would step up. However, Toyoda did not take on the post of Keidanren vice chair, a prerequisite to becoming Keidanren chair, and instead sent Toyota vice chairman Hayakawa Shigeru in his place. Interest is now growing as to whether Toyoda will assume the position of vice chair during Nakanishi’s tenure.

List of Chairmen of Keidanren

Keidanren (under former English name: Japan Federation of Economic Organizations)
1 Ishikawa Ichirō (Nissan Chemical Industries)
August 1946–February 1956
2 Ishizaka Taizō (Toshiba Shibaura)
February 1956–May 1968
3 Uemura Kōgorō (Keidanren Secretariat)
May 1968–May 1974
4 Dokō Toshio (Toshiba Shibaura)
May 1974–May 1980
5 Inayama Yoshihiro (Nippon Steel)
May 1980–May 1986
6 Saitō Eishirō (Nippon Steel)
May 1986–December 1990
7 Hiraiwa Gaishi (TEPCO)
December 1990–May 1994
8 Toyoda Shōichirō (Toyota)
May 1994–May 1998
9 Imai Takashi (Nippon Steel)
May 1998–May 2002
Nippon Keidanren (under current English name: Japan Business Federation*)
10 Okuda Hiroshi (Toyota)
May 2002–May 2006
11 Mitarai Fujio (Canon)
May 2006–May 2010
12 Yonekura Hiromasa (Sumitomo Chemical)
May 2010–June 2014
13 Sakakibara Sadayuki (Toray)
June 2014–May 2018
14 Nakanishi Hiroaki (Hitachi) May 2018–

* Keidanren’s official English name changed following the merger of the former Keidanren (Japan Federation of Economic Organizations) with Nikkeiren (Japan Federation of Employers’ Associations)

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: The newly appointed fourteenth Keidanren chairman Nakanishi Hiroaki (left) with the thirteenth chairman Sakakibara Sadayuki. © Jiji.)

 

  • [2018.06.07]
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