Japan Executive Team
Japanese CEOs are throwing out the rule book in the face of unprecedented challenges, including natural phenomena like typhoons, earthquakes, and extreme snowstorms on their shores.
“In these uncertain times, where conventional wisdom and past experiences no longer apply, we must confront complex issues directly,” said Satoru Komiya, CEO Tokio Marine Holdings, the oldest insurance company in Japan.
Buy-side and sell-side professionals voted Komiya as the No. 1 chief executive in the insurance and non-banking financial sector in Institutional Investor’s All-Japan Executive Team survey. His firm is reimagining traditional insurance to suit renewable energy by acquiring smaller renewables insurers and hiring specialist claims adjusters, who assess the amount of compensation after a claim has been made.
Many Japanese homes still lack sufficient earthquake resistance and thermal insulation, according to Yoshihiro Nakai, the top-ranking chief executive in the construction sector according to buy- and sell-side voters. His firm Sekisui House is working on creating more high-quality housing by improving the resilience of existing homes.
Meanwhile, Osamu Hashimoto, the top-ranking chief executive in the chemicals sector by combined vote, is addressing climate threats by internally transforming his firm, Mitsui Chemicals — as well as teaming up with other companies. “I believe multi-company collaborations will lead to even greater contributions toward the reduction of greenhouse gasses,” he said, pointing to Mitsui Chemicals’ work with the Finnish oil refining company Neste to produce “renewable” plastic.
Alongside climate issues, inflation is putting pressure on budgets across all sectors. Yasuo Takeuchi of Olympus, who was voted best chief executive in the medical technologies and services sector by buy- and sell-side professionals, said it was a time to exercise caution as costs continue to rise. But government efforts to suppress inflation are not always popular.
Takeda CEO Christophe Weber, who was voted No. 1 in the biotechnology and pharmaceuticals sector by sell-side participants, took aim at the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act. He said the act, which President Biden introduced in August, partly to try and lower prescription drug prices, will hit innovation and the development of new drugs: “Even in the U.S., which has long served as an innovation engine for the industry, the Inflation Reduction Act involves an unprecedented government price-setting system for medicines that may put future innovation at risk.”
One area where innovation is expected to flourish: Artificial intelligence. In December, Olympus acquired a London-based startup called Odin Vision to use AI to create a digital endoscopy, a medical test where a camera is passed into the body through an opening. “This goes far beyond the current endoscopy or endoscopic procedures, offering a series of smart, curated solutions,” Takeuchi said.
Meanwhile, Sekisui House CEO Nakai said his firm is working on a digital platform which will collect data on inhabitants’ environment and lifestyle to enhance their health and safety. And Mitsui Chemicals’s Hashimoto says he’s excited by the explosive growth of ChatGPT and the technology’s potential to free up humans for more creative work.
But the growing reach of AI has an impact on demand for semiconductors at a time when they are also in demand for self-driving cars and memory upgrades for computers. Toshiki Kawai, who came first place in the electronics precision instruments category in the combined vote, credits the founders of his firm Tokyo Electron for having the foresight to start a trading company for semiconductors in 1963, when the technology was still relatively small.
“The founders placed importance on the company’s ability to function as a manufacturer and to expand its business globally, and this has become a reality,” Kawai said. “There is a lot of business opportunity and I am excited.”
To determine the members of Institutional Investor’s 2023 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 424 investors, portfolio managers and analysts from 172 firms, nominating a total of 505 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 a weighted score of at least 10 points for its published positions in CEO, CFO, IRO, IR Program, ESG, and Company Board categories; 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 2023 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.