Law in the Internet Society

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-- By ShawnFetty - 26 Dec 2011

Even not knowing the full extent of wrongdoing—the breadth of complicity or the linkage to organized crime—the Olympus scandal*** is an opportunity to cultivate perspective on corporate governance and Japanese culture more broadly.

Legally-minded observers will wonder about Japan’s corporate governance scheme. Reacting to corporate scandals in the 1990s and Japan’s declining economic significance, Japanese corporate law changed in the last decade. One notable change gave corporations the option of implementing an “American-style,” committee structure for their board of directors. Japanese boards are traditionally large: i.e., 200+ members. In this context, appointment to the board was understood to be largely perfunctory. For example, directors’ responsibilities might be limited to representing the views of their former divisions. The change would hopefully encourage boards to exercise greater oversight. Other changes included strengthening the role of statutory corporate-auditors and independent director requirements. Coupled with these legislative changes, Japanese courts, recognizing a duty of care under the Civil Code, began awarding large damages when directors failed to exercise proper care. In all, the overall scheme of corporate governance in Japan is very similar to America’s or that of other highly developed economies.

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r1 - 26 Dec 2011 - 21:35:03 - ShawnFetty
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