Toshiba management faces investor wrath over accounting scandal
CHIBA - Agence France-Presse
Toshiba Corp President and CEO Masashi Muromachi attends a news conference at the company headquarters in Tokyo, Japan September 7, 2015. Reuters PhotoToshiba executives on Sept. 30 faced the wrath of shareholders who demanded an explanation after one of Japan’s best-known companies was hammered by a billion-dollar accounting scandal.
Nearly 2,000 shareholders turned up to an investor meeting outside Tokyo, peppering a new management team with questions about the affair which led to the resignation of Toshiba’s president and seven other top executives in July.
“There are many admirable people working at Toshiba who must have expressed concerns about what was going on -- who ignored them, who killed their opinions?” demanded one shareholder who identified himself by the surname Kodama.
New president Masashi Muromachi’s deep bows to the audience, a common act of contrition among Japanese executives, seemed to do little to persuade investors that he could overhaul the 140-year-old firm’s corporate culture.
Shareholder Takayuki Otake called on Toshiba’s new boss to reveal what he knew about the scheme, sparking applause among other investors.
“I truly regret what happened,” said Muromachi, who temporarily cut his salary in response to the affair, and who noted he was cleared of any wrongdoing.
A company-hired panel found top executives pressured underlings to inflate Toshiba’s bottom line for years.
Mitsuro Nagai blamed the problem on Japan’s rigid “salaryman” culture and a general tendency not to challenge bosses.
“The salarymen are too obedient to authority,” the shareholder told AFP.
“This happens everywhere but especially in Japan -- one cannot say clearly what they are thinking.”