An interview with George Hara, currently Chairman of Alliance Forum and former board member of various Silicon Valley start ups as a venture capitalist kicks off Nikkei Business’s attempt at finding a new standard for evaluating Japanese companies, beyond the shareholder capitalism model.
Instead of “Good/Best company”or “Great Place to Work” and all the other awards you can get, the Nikkei proposes ‘Yoi‘, which can be translated as ‘good’ but is probably better translated as ‘virtuous’. They even deliberately write the headline ‘Yoi kaisha‘ (‘Virtuous company’) in Japanese brush stroke calligraphy.
Hara doesn’t think the term ‘stakeholder capitalism’ quite covers what he and the Nikkei are getting at, even though he says the company should be measured on the benefit to employees, customers, partners and regional society as well as shareholders. He prefers ‘shachu‘ (which my dictionary translates as clique or troupe) or public benefit capitalism – meaning that all the concerned parties have a common objective.
He particularly criticises the way companies in the US – the home of full blooded shareholder capitalism – such as Hewlett Packard or Dupont find that putting shareholder interests first means firing people even when there are record breaking profits, or not being able to invest in long term projects to develop technologies which will benefit society.
Japanese corporate leaders used to be much more inclined to public benefit capitalism, and the cause is not lost yet, says Hara – citing that when he showed the great and the good of the IMF around Tokyo’s underground system recently they were full of praise for how clean, orderly and busy a city supposedly suffering from a 20 year recession was. Japan should be setting its own standard for the rest of the world, he feels.
Following on from this, Nikkei Business have come up with a Yoi company metric, based on profit, changes in employee numbers, corporate tax contribution and share price over the past 10 quarters for 3841 Tokyo stock exchange listed companies and the top 10 are:
- Fast Retailing* (Uniqlo) (Yanai, the founder and also board member of Softbank is quick to throw this back in the face of those who have termed Fast Retailing a “black company”)
- Fanuc (the current target of shareholder activist Daniel Loeb)
- Aeon Mall
- Mani (medical devices)
- Japan Tobacco
- Takeda Pharma *
- Central Japan Railway
- Sumitomo Real Estate
- USS (car auctions)
- Astellas Pharma*
- SMC (automatic control equipment)
- Nakanishi (motor spindles, micro grinders)
- Trend Micro (security solutions, founded in the USA, HQ in Japan)
- Sysmex (healthcare)
- Hisamitsu Pharma
- Nitori Holdings (furniture)
- J Trust
Other of our Top 30 Japanese companies in Europe* in the top 100
- Bridgestone #41
- Denso #46
- Sumitomo Electric Group #51
In our Top 30 in Europe but not in the Top 100 Yoi companies:
Fujitsu, Ricoh, Sony, Asahi Glass, NSG, Toshiba, Hitachi, Panasonic, NTT Data, NYK, Fujifilm, Olympus, Mitsubishi Chemical Holding, Nomura, Nidec, Sharp, Daiichi Sankyo, Kao, Seiko Epson
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