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Ghosn earned ¥988 million; no one has gripe

Kyodo, AP

Nissan Motor Co. said Tuesday that CEO Carlos Ghosn earned a whopping ¥988 million in the last fiscal year, up ¥1 million, or 0.1 percent, from the previous year.

The amount is likely the highest among remunerations received by executives of listed Japanese firms in fiscal 2012, which ended on March 31.

Ghosn said it is important to hire the best human resources to maintain competitiveness, adding that the average executive salary at overseas manufacturers with a similar business scale as Nissan is around ¥1.5 billion.

Among other chiefs of automakers, Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda earned ¥184 million in the same period, up 35.3 percent, while Honda Motor Co. President Takanobu Ito was paid ¥123 million in fiscal 2011, according to the latest data available.

The total for Toyoda includes ¥100 million in basic salary, ¥81 million in bonuses and ¥3 million in stock options, or rights to buy shares in Toyota. The bonuses compare with ¥20 million in fiscal 2011.

In fiscal 2012, Toyota’s group net profit jumped 3.4-fold from a year earlier to ¥962.1 billion, while it returned to the black in terms of parent-only operating balance for the first time in five years.

Ghosn was also on top of the rankings in fiscal 2009 and 2010, earning ¥891 million in the first year and ¥982 million the second. Listed companies are obliged to disclose the amount of remunerations executives receive if they top ¥100 million.

At a shareholders’ meeting in Yokohama, Ghosn vowed to further strengthen development and sales of minicars in Japan, in which the automaker lags behind its rivals.

No shareholder asked about his pay during the two-hour annual meeting. They asked about green auto technology and suggested he get more women involved in the development of new car models. One even expressed worries whether anyone in Nissan could succeed Ghosn if he were to retire.

Like other Japanese automakers, Nissan’s production was devastated by the March 2011 tsunami in the Tohoku region and floods in Thailand later in the year. Thailand is an important Southeast Asian production hub for Japanese and U.S. automakers.

Last year, Nissan and other Japanese automakers were hit by riots and a sales boycott in China, a key growth market for the industry, as anti-Japanese sentiment erupted over the Senkaku Islands.

But Nissan has been on a roll recently, growing particularly fast in emerging markets such as Thailand, Brazil and Indonesia. It also boasts the title of the No. 1 maker of zero-emission cars in an alliance with Renault SA of France.