Kajiyama: Ministry awaits Toshiba's response

Japan's economy minister says he is waiting for Toshiba to respond to a report accusing his ministry of colluding with the company to obstruct a proposal by an activist shareholder.

The Economy, Trade and Industry Minister, Kajiyama Hiroshi, made the comment after an independent panel of lawyers chosen by Toshiba's top shareholder, Effissimo Capital Management, released a report on Thursday.

It said that Toshiba and the ministry together tried to influence shareholders votes at a general meeting last July. Effissimo had proposed an increase in the number of external directors it nominated.

The report says references to a law regulating foreign investment were used to pressure shareholders. The proposal was voted down.

Kajiyama said, "The ministry may in principle obtain information from businesses to probe shareholder action restricted by the foreign exchange law from the standpoint of national security. The ministry's response should not immediately come into question."

He said the issue concerns Toshiba's governance. He said the ministry may look further into the matter depending on Toshiba's response.