Toshiba Corp’s chairman of the board on Monday pushed back against investor calls for him to resign, blaming its former chief executive for a “confrontational stance” towards shareholders that helped pitch the Japanese company into crisis.
Toshiba has come under fierce global scrutiny after an independent investigation last week revealed management colluded with the Japanese government to put pressure on foreign investors in what one shareholder has called the world’s worst corporate scandal in a decade.
On Monday, Nagayama apologised at a news conference broadcast online and said there were lapses in governance but added he wanted to stay on and help reconstruct management at the conglomerate.
He highlighted what he said were lapses by former CEO Nobuaki Kurumatani.
“There was a somewhat confrontational stance towards shareholders brewing from some time ago,” Nagayama said, when asked about the responsibility of the former chief executive.
“That’s an underlying cause in one sense for the current state of affairs,” he said.
Nagayama also said Toshiba will hold an emergency general meeting to appoint new board members and wants to include two of its foreign directors among a planned four- or five-member committee that will conduct a strategic review.
The crisis at Toshiba has renewed concern about governance in the world’s third-largest economy and its openness to foreign investors.
3D Investment Partners, Toshiba’s second-largest shareholder, on Sunday called for Nagayama and three other directors to resign following the revelations of the investigation.
The investigation marked an explosive turn in a long battle between the company’s management and foreign shareholders. It detailed how management reached out to Japan’s powerful trade ministry and asked it to lean on shareholders, including Harvard University’s endowment fund, so they would back management plans.
Later on Sunday Toshiba said it would change its board director nominees for an upcoming shareholder meeting, as two of them are stepping down.