Governance Progress in Japan, – Pension Governance – Next, Rules for Listed Subsidiaries?

Nice to see that my personal push that resulted in the CG Code revision re pension fund governance mentioned in the article below, has now led to 14 pensions of non-financial corporates that signed the Stewardship Code…. up from one two years ago. https://www.al-in.jp/investmentjapan/2922/ But as to independent directors on boards, keep in mind that […]

Three Years of Policy Advocacy Worked! Now Five Non-Financial Corporate Pension Funds in Japan Have Signed the Stewardship Code

I was very pleased to see in the FSA’s updated list of signatories to the Stewardship Code, that Mitsubishi Corporation’s pension fund recently signed on.  This makes five major non-financial corporate pension funds that have signed the S.C.:  Secom, Panasonic, NTT, Eisai, and now Mitsubishi Corporation. Secom had signed from the start, but the others came after I urged the Prime Minister on this topic, and then the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW, in charge of corporate pensions), then wrote a proposal for a change of the regulations by MHLW…. which resulted in a joint study group between MHLW, the Pension Fund Association, pension experts, and the FSA (as observer) for the express purpose of encouraging pension funds to sign the S.C.

https://www.fsa.go.jp/en/refer/councils/stewardship/20181115/en_list_02.pdf 

This major progress for Japan, and these companies should be commended. There is an extreme disconnect between the way in which Japanese companies claim to care about their employees (and often do! ) but so far, have not seemed to care about the assets (retirement funds) of those same employees.  This is especially so when one considers that corporate pensions in Japan have no government guarantee, so as the company veers towards bankruptcy it first forces employees to agree to a big cut in benefits (a la JAL), and if it goes bankrupt and the pension is underfunded….well, “it is what it is”.

If anyone is interested, here is the “comply and explain” proposal that I submitted to the MHLW.
https://bdti.or.jp/2016/08/20/pengovrprop/ 

Nicholas Benes
Representative Director, BDTI

”Proposals for Raising Productivity in Japan” (by Nicholas Benes)

This is an English translation of a presentation in Japanese that I have given recently to several influential members of the government.The opinions are my own.

​”The main reason why the Japanese economy is sluggish is because Japanese companies do not withdraw from unprofitable operations and/or engage in sufficient industry consolidation, and as a result corporate assets are not reallocated to their best uses.

⇒ To resolve this requires the following:

A. Further enhancing corporate governance, and pension governance

Further strengthen corporate governance, mainly through the ongoing review of the Corporate Governance code (see 1 below)

Improve the governance of pension funds via a number of measures (see 2 below)

​B. Eliminating rigidities in the labor market

Create the new employment classification of “Type 2 regular employees” (see 3 below)