Imai officially tapped by Toyoda to head Keidanren

Shoichiro Toyoda, chairman of the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren), announced Monday that he has chosen Takashi Imai, president of Nippon Steel Corp., to succeed him at the helm of the nation’s largest business organization.The announcement was made at a regular meeting of Keidanren’s chairman and vice chairmen. The vice chairmen immediately endorsed the selection of Imai, 68, Toyoda told reporters. Imai, who is also a Keidanren vice chairman, is expected to be chosen as the group’s ninth chairman at a general meeting scheduled for May 26, Toyoda said.He also said Tadahiro Sekimoto, chairman of NEC Corp. and a Keidanren vice chairman, will take the chairman’s post on Keidanren’s board of councilors, an advisory council of the organization. Sekimoto will succeed Chairman Hiroshi Saito, who is also chair of Nippon Steel Corp.Both Imai and Sekimoto were strong candidates for Keidanren chief’s post, but Toyoda selected Imai because of his understanding of tax and fiscal policies and his moderate personality, observers said. Toyoda said his selection of Imai was also based on Imai’s participation in promoting administrative reforms, which Toyoda has been pursing since he became chairman in May 1994.Imai currently serves as chairman of Keidanren’s administrative reform committee. “I worked with him personally in promoting deregulation and administrative reform, and I came to know that he is a suitable person to succeed me,” Toyoda said.Accepting Toyoda’s offer, Imai, who also attended the news conference, said Keidanren is playing an important role in changing Japanese society, and he would like to tackle the nation’s problems as Keidanren’s leader. “I have been engaged in the company’s management and realized that there are many things that cannot be changed by one company alone. Japan’s various systems, such as regulations, corporate taxes and social insurance policies, are placing a great burden on corporations and workers,” Imai said.