Yoshihisa Akiyama, president of the Kansai Electric Power Co. and a vice chairman of the Kansai Economic Federation (Kankeiren), will take over chairmanship of the federation from Yasuo Shingu, who will step down in May, it was announced Tuesday.

Shingu, 72, honorary chairman of Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd., told a news conference that it is a good time for him to step down, since he is set to become the first president of the Kansai Conference, a new organization starting in April that local governments and business groups in the Kansai region have planned to promote local projects and decentralization.

“When I took over this post, I intended to serve as a short-term relief man,” Shingu said. “It’s good to have a new leader to promote revitalization of the region next century.” Shingu took over the post from Tetsuro Kawakami, chairman of Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd., in May 1997 and repaired relationships with the Liberal Democratic Party, which were tense when Kawakami served as Kankeiren head.

Akiyama has gradually taken leadership in the region’s business community, serving as cochairman of the Kansai Association of Corporate Executives for two years from May 1994. He became a Kankeiren vice chairman in May 1997.

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