Japan Executive Team
As Japan moved to fully lift Covid-19 restrictions at the end of March, the country’s top chief executives said the lessons from the pandemic will be longer-lasting.
“The ongoing threat of Covid-19 throughout 2021 reinforced for me the fact that improving human health around the world is an essential part of sustainable social development,” said Sunao Manabe, chief executive of Daiichi Sankyo. Manabe was the top-scoring chief executive in the biotech industry in Institutional Investor’s 2022 All-Japan Executive Team survey, as voted for by buy- and sell-side participants.
Manabe says Japanese pharmaceutical companies have much to learn from early delays in the development and production of coronavirus vaccines in the country. Daiichi Sankyo was the first company to develop an mRNA vaccine in Japan, and the first in the world to use its proprietary cationic lipid, which it believes improves the safety of the shot. With support from the Japanese government, the company is developing a vaccine that targets a specific receptor binding domain of the novel coronavirus spike protein, which it hopes will be more effective and safer than other companies’ mRNA vaccines, which target the entire length of the spike protein. Daiichi Sankyo’s vaccine is being developed for general use by the end of 2022.
Manabe says that cross-sector collaboration will become increasingly commonplace, especially as companies leverage data to advance their work and enter into partnerships with tech companies. “This is an ecosystem where various stakeholders collaborate at deeper levels, including individual patients, medical institutions, data providers, [and] tech companies,” he said. Unprecedented availability of healthcare data has been particularly effective in developing new drugs to combat breast cancer at Daiichi Sankyo, he said.
It’s this potential for the innovation and collaboration forged during the pandemic to inform other areas of research that chief executives say is really exciting. “There have been many lessons learned throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, but in particular it is my hope that we can apply the same level of speed, precision, and industry-wide coordination to solve other global health crises, like climate change,” said Christophe Weber, president and chief executive of Takeda, who ranked second in the biotech and pharmaceuticals sector as voted for by sell-side participants. Weber said global health crises will become more frequent in an era of rising temperatures, and that companies, industries, and governments must work together to advance science and take collective action in order to tackle the climate crisis. “Climate change cannot be solved by one company alone,” he said.
In the meantime, companies still have to combat more mundane business challenges. At Shin-Etsu Chemical Corp., which has recently developed a liquid silicone rubber for use in electric vehicles, semiconductors, and other electronics, meeting customer demand amid supply chain disruptions is the key challenge for this year, according to chief executive Yasuhiko Saitoh, who ranked as the No. 2 CEO in the chemicals sector.
Shigenobu Nagamori, the founder, director, and chairman of Nidec and the top-ranking chief executive in the electronics sector, also pointed to supply chain risks as one among a plethora of challenges facing Japan’s chief executives this year. “Uncertainty of the business environment includes the spread of Covid-19, material price increase, supply chain disruption, and increase of geopolitical risk,” he said. Nidec is working on diversifying production sites and its customer base, while changing the design or materials used in products to combat rising prices for raw metals. “Nidec recognizes the supply of products [are essential to] meeting clients’ demand,” Nagamori said.
To determine the members of Institutional Investor’s 2022 All-Japan Executive Team, we surveyed buy-side analysts, money managers and sell-side researchers at securities firms and financial institutions that cover the region, including those who cast and received votes in this year’s All-Japan Research Team surveys. Results reflect the opinions from 510 investors, portfolio managers and analysts from 210 firms, nominating a total of 499 companies.
We asked the buy- and sell-side voters to name the best chief executive officers, chief financial officers and investor relations professionals at the companies in their coverage universes. CEOs were rated on their credibility, leadership and quality of communication. CFOs were rated on their ability in capital allocation, financial stewardship and quality of communication. For the Investor Relations programs, companies were rated on a variety of attributes covering their service and communication, disclosure, and ESG.
Separate rankings – buy side and sell side, as well as combined – are available for CEO, CFO, IR Professional, and IR Program awards.
To earn the designation of Most Honored Company, a company must achieve two or more top-three appearances in the combined buy-side and sell-side results, with a minimum score of four points; rank is determined by weighted score wherein each first-place position is worth three points; second place, two; and third place, one. When a tie exists in the weighted score, companies are ordered according to the number of ranked positions they receive in their industry sectors.
To be eligible for inclusion on the 2022 All-Japan Executive Team, a company must be headquartered or have operational or executive headquarters in the region. We keep confidential the identities of the survey respondents to ensure their continuing cooperation. Voters must meet eligibility requirements, and winners must achieve a minimum vote count.