We were very sorry to hear of the passing of Nakanishi Hiroaki, Chairman Emeritus of Hitachi. There was a nice tribute to him in the Nikkei Business magazine (JPNS), calling him the prime minister of the Japanese business world, who was not afraid to speak out. Not only was he instrumental in turning around Hitachi, along with Kawamura Takashi, but he was a champion of making sure the voices of women and younger people were heard.
He was highly critical of Keidanren (the Japanese business association)’s resistance to increasing external directors on boards, and urged Japanese companies to pay higher wages to their employees. He was also insistent that if Japanese companies did not tackle environmental problems immediately, they would lose their competitiveness. As the head of Keidanren, he fought for Namba Tomoko of DeNA to become the first female vice president of Keidanren, accusing it of being overconcerned about the size and seniority of companies in its hierarchy, saying that to younger people it had become a fossil. He pushed for targets for women in management, declaring that the Japanese economy would sink if its male oriented society was not changed.
Even as he struggled with his illness, he continued to speak out, unafraid of criticism, and wanted not just his successor at Keidanren, but also Japan as a whole to feel free to express their opinions.
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