• Kyodo

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Shareholders meetings peaked Friday as some 700 companies held their annual gatherings under new restrictions imposed by the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic has forced a change in how the meetings are carried out, with some opting for virtual meetings and others holding scaled-down versions to prevent infections.

Sony Corp. saw just 200 investors fill the 400 available seats for the meeting, down from 1,500 last year, with all having their temperatures taken before entering the venue.

The meeting lasted only 40 minutes, less than half the time of last year’s event, but was long enough for them to approve a plan to rename the company as the Sony Group.

In Kyoto, Nintendo Co. also held a downscaled meeting in terms of duration and number of questions taken from shareholders. The video game maker also canceled the distribution of character goods to participants.

On Tuesday, Z Holdings Corp., which runs the Yahoo Japan internet portal, held its first hybrid shareholders meeting.

About 90 people joined remotely and were given the same voting rights and opportunities to ask questions as the 20 or so people who attended the meeting physically along with President Kentaro Kawabe at the company’s headquarters in Tokyo.

Kawabe read out and responded to the questions submitted, including one on the company’s overseas business strategy. All the company’s proposals were approved at the meeting.

Although the number of participants was down sharply from 1,751 last year, some shareholders welcomed the virtual meeting as it was accessible by those living outside Tokyo.

“I’m grateful for this attempt as I can’t travel to Tokyo for shareholders meetings,” said Hidenori Yasui, 61, a Z Holdings investor in Fukui Prefecture.

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