While Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's vaunted third arrow — structural reforms — has generally been rated as unsuccessful, his administration has received high praise from Japan analysts for shaking up the country's corporate management system.

The nation's companies have gradually moved toward accepting the need to listen to shareholder concerns, and to deploy record stockpiles of cash with their interests in mind, since Abe took office in 2012. But many have not done so willingly, and now some are fighting back.

The clever work-around strategy that some are deploying involves buying back their own shares, then transferring them to a charitable foundation loyal to top management. The maneuver helps make them less of a target in an environment where some investment funds are looking to push Japanese businesses to invest or return more of their ¥255.3 trillion worth of cash.