Twenty-First Business Advisory Board Meeting

On October 28, the 21st U.S.-Japan Council Business Advisory Board (BAB) Meeting was held virtually for the very first time, and Masaaki Tanaka, BAB Chairman and Vice-Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors, delivered remarks as the featured speaker. Over 50 industry leaders from diverse fields gathered to listen to his talk, titled “Unwavering Commitment to Global Business.”

USJC leaders and BAB attendees, including TOMODACHI alumni

The meeting began with opening remarks from USJC Board Member Scott Sato, welcoming BAB members and guests back to the first BAB meeting in eight months since its last in-person gathering in mid-February. Representative Director of the USJC (Japan) Board of Directors Royanne Doi gave updates on USJC activities, including the leadership transition, 2020 Signature Series and other programs.

Joined by Jenifer Rogers, General Counsel Asia, Asurion Japan Holdings G.K. and Board Member of the U.S.-Japan Council (Japan), as a moderator in this fireside chat, Mr. Tanaka first shared his fascinating career trajectory of over 40 years in finance and how he came to know the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye and Irene Hirano Inouye.

As Chairman, President and CEO of Nippon Paint Holdings Co., Ltd., he explained how Nippon Paint is a global, growth-oriented company by showcasing various facts such as how the company is fourth in revenue in the paints and coatings market and also ranks second in market cap globally. He also shared their forecast of significant growth in the area outside of Japan, especially in China and other Asian countries. 

The discussion then addressed Nippon Paint’s recent M&A transaction in which they joined with Singapore-based conglomerate Wuthelam. With Wuthelam acquiring a majority stake in Nippon Paint, Nippon Paint applied the proceeds to buy out their joint ventures in Asia and Wuthelam’s Indonesian affiliate. This 1.29 trillion Japanese yen deal involves Nippon Paint maintaining 100% control of their operations with Wuthelam as a shareholder, and Mr. Tanaka stressed how it was a product of almost 60 years of a trusting relationship with Wuthelam and its founder Mr. Goh. Mr. Tanaka also noted that his extensive financial background, as well as Nippon Paint’s newly placed governance structure with Committees that are independent from the CEO, made this win-win transaction possible while protecting the interests of their minority shareholders.

Mr. Tanaka showing the national flag of the United States given by late Senator Daniel K. Inouye in honor of his successful completion of assignment in New York as his “lifetime treasure”

Mr. Tanaka also touched on the new management style they established, called “spider web management,” in which Nippon Paint’s subsidiaries are given authority to devise and execute their own operational plans, noting that it is quite common for traditional Japanese companies to give no autonomy to subsidiaries.

He concluded by sharing Nippon Paint’s ongoing strategies of implementing better-coordinated Automotive Painting businesses with former Wuthelam companies, as well as using technology in an innovative way with antiviral approaches to the medical industry in its global strategy going forward.

During the Q&A and networking session following the talk, the audience, including TOMODACHI alumni, were eager to ask him questions as a Japanese executive with a global mindset. They enjoyed the conversation with Mr. Tanaka and other attendees for the remainder of the session.