• Kyodo


Masakazu Tokura, chairman of Sumitomo Chemical Co., on Tuesday took the helm of Japan's most powerful business lobby, facing a host of challenges ranging from the coronavirus pandemic and U.S.-China tensions to the fight against climate change.

Tokura, 70, was endorsed at a general meeting of the Japan Business Federation, known as Keidanren, along with DeNA Co. chairwoman Tomoko Namba, 59, who became the business lobby's first female vice chair in its over seven-decade history.

Tokura's predecessor Hiroaki Nakanishi, 75, stepped down to focus on his treatment for lymphoma. A Keidanren chief normally serves two terms, or a total of four years.

"I'd like to aim for a Keidanren that can receive broad support" from society, Tokura said in his address. He said international coordination should be the way to cope with the impact of the U.S.-China rivalry and other geopolitical risks.

Under Tokura, the federation is expected to draw up new action plans in October for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

Namba said she knows from her experience as a corporate executive that diversity makes an organization stronger.

"I would like to fulfill my responsibility and work to keep the door open for those women who would follow me," Namba told a news conference. "What you do is more important than how you are labeled," she said, noting that people often emphasize her being the first female vice chair.

Namba is the only woman among 19 vice chairs at the federation, which aims to have women account for 30% of the executive positions at major firms by 2030 in Japan.

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