A third of the nation's listed companies held their annual shareholders meetings on the peak day Thursday, but the ratio was the lowest ever amid government calls to spread the gatherings apart to promote greater investor participation.

Companies are also facing higher pressure to better communicate with shareholders because asset management firms have started scrutinizing proposals and voting more closely to protect their investors' interests.

A total of 696 — or 29.6 percent — of firms whose business years ended in March hosted the meetings on Thursday, down from 32.2 percent from last year, according to the Tokyo Stock Exchange.