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One major company after another has chosen relatively young executives as their presidents in this season of personnel reshuffle. Rather than choosing new top leaders from among vice presidents or executive directors, these firms have selected younger people with a strong track record overseas in the hope that they can work out better strategies for their firms to compete globally and introduce drastic operations reforms. In today’s business environment, even established major firms need strong leadership at the top. These younger leaders may change the face of Japan Inc., long known for its seniority-based promotions.

Tatsuo Yasunaga, a 54-year-old operating officer with plant-export experience who once had been on loan to the World Bank, took the helm of leading trading house Mitsui & Co. on Wednesday. He leapfrogged 32 more senior officials to become Mitsui’s youngest president since it was established in its present form in 1959. Mitsui even took the trouble of changing its corporate statute to enable this promotion.

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