About 200 major companies across the nation held their annual shareholders’ meetings Wednesday, beating the huge crush for such meetings that will take place today.

Amid a climate of slow economic recovery and large-scale mergers and consolidation, several large companies met with shareholders to explain their management policies.

Among the companies were Asahi Bank, which recently announced the cancellation of its planned integration with Sanwa and Tokai banks, and Kobe Steel Ltd., which was hit by a scandal involving payoffs to “sokaiya” corporate extortionists last autumn.

The Industrial Bank of Japan, which is being asked to write off loans to ailing department store chain Sogo Co., and West Japan Railway Co., hit by a series of incidents involving its shinkansen tunnels, also faced their shareholders.

During its shareholders’ meeting, Tokai Bank head Hideo Ogasawara said Asahi’s withdrawal from the tieup plan is a result of “different views” on future strategy.

Asked about the planned merger with Sanwa, Ogasawara said it does not mean that Tokai will be absorbed into Sanwa, but rather that it will be complimentary for both sides.

Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank, Fuji Bank and the IBJ received support from their shareholders for their planned tieup under a joint holding company.

Police authorities dispatched officers to shareholders’ meetings to guard against disruption by sokaiya.

Nominal shareholders in firms, sokaiya are a common fixture in the Japanese business world and are often paid off by firms in exchange for not making embarrassing or damaging revelations about the firms’ activities.

In Tokyo, 83 companies, including leading banks, held their shareholders’ meetings Wednesday.