Japanese businesses facing greater scrutiny from shareholders and regulators are competing for investor-relations (IR) talent, turning to investment funds, banks and other financial firms to find people who can better communicate corporate strategy and capital allocation.

"The percentage of employees of Japanese companies that have had direct communication with shareholders is minuscule,” said George Olcott, an outside director at Kirin Holdings who has served on the boards of Denso, Dai-Ichi Life Holdings and other companies during the past decade.

Corporate Japan is facing a record number of proposals this year, with the the country’s annual shareholders’ meeting season wrapping up this week. Investors have tabled proposals ranging from more share buybacks and higher dividends, to greater disclosure of business activities and, in some cases, calling for the removal of directors and executives.