Wakasa likely to resign over ANA reshuffle

Tokuji Wakasa, honorary chairman of All Nippon Airways, is likely to resign as a board member to take responsibility for confusion over the airline’s personnel change in senior management, sources said May 16.

Earlier in the day, Transport Minister Makoto Koga expressed his disapproval of the recent personnel change, in which ANA’s octogenarian honorary chairman maintained his position and its 64-year old president was dismissed. “In my personal opinion, considering (Wakasa’s) age, the decision goes against common sense,” Koga said.

On May 13, ANA announced that Kenzo Yoshikawa, 60, president of ANA Real Estate Co., will replace ANA President Seiji Fukatsu, 64, next month. The shuffle came after Fukatsu reportedly disagreed with Wakasa and Chairman Takaya Sugiura, 71, over a personnel matter. Wakasa, a former vice transport minister, became an ANA executive upon retirement in 1967 and has controlled the carrier for nearly three decades.

Koga noted that the solidarity of management and labor is needed for airlines to serve the public interest and ensure safe operations.

“The most important thing for such a company is that employees and management truly work together,” Koga said. “If media reports are true, it is a grave situation.”

He added, however, that the ministry has no intention of intervening in ANA affairs.

Meanwhile, one of two ANA labor unions on Thursday demanded an explanation for the announced change of the carrier’s top executive.

As head of the firm, Wakasa was implicated in the 1976 Lockheed bribery scandal, found guilty of creating a secret fund and committing perjury. In 1992, the Supreme Court finalized his three-year prison term, suspended for five years.

During those years, he continued to head ANA as president and later as chairman. He became honorary chairman in 1991.