Outspoken leader of key Japanese trade organization to step down after long tenure


The Yomiuri Shimbun
Akio Mimura, president of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, answers questions from reporters during his last regular press conference in Tokyo on October 20.

Key business leader Akio Mimura will step down as president of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, one of the country’s three main business organizations, at the end of October. Honorary chairman of the steel giant now known as Nippon Steel Corp., Mimura’s statements over the years have had a profound impact on the Japanese government and business community.

JCCI membership is dominated by small and medium-sized businesses, but Mimura, 81, has tackled not only small business issues, but also broader issues involving both government and private sectors. .

Mimura led the organization for nine years and will step down when his third term expires, an unusually long term for a JCCI president. Many JCCI officials consider him one of their greatest leaders.

He will be replaced by Ken Kobayashi, the former head of Mitsubishi Corp. 73 years old and JCCI’s first president from a large trading company. The question is whether Kobayashi – currently a corporate adviser to Mitsubishi – can deliver the organization’s message as effectively as Mimura did, in times of high prices.

Mimura became president of JCCI in November 2013 as an internationalist leader at a time when Japanese small and medium-sized enterprises faced the significant challenge of enhancing their competitiveness. He had previously served as Chairman and Chairman of Nippon Steel.

“I spent nine years worrying and thinking about what I should do in my role,” Mimura said during his last regular press conference as president on Oct. 20 in Tokyo. The answer, he said, was to “rebuild the Japanese economy again.”

Since becoming the head of the JCCI, Mimura has repeatedly made outspoken statements criticizing both government departments and industries. This made him unique among business organization leaders, who were criticized for their declining ability to assert themselves.

When Mimura became a member of important government councils, such as the National Council for Promoting Dynamic Engagement of All Citizens chaired by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, he repeatedly demanded measures he felt were needed on a wide range of policies, including taxes, fiscal issues and energy.

Mimura demanded, for example, that the government take steps to ensure that big businesses and small businesses can trade with each other at fair prices and that businesses can pass on costs in selling prices. These two positions were eventually reflected in government policy.

As the economy moved from deflation in which prices steadily fell to an era of rising prices caused by the high cost of resources, Mimura worked hard to keep small and medium-sized businesses profitable.

“His words at key times had an impact,” said a senior business official.

Aubrey L. Morgan