Japan's 1st online-only shareholders' meeting

A venture enterprise in Tokyo has become the first company in Japan to hold an annual general meeting of shareholders online only, following the passage in June of a revised law to enhance industrial competitiveness.

The microalgae firm, Euglena, started a shareholders' meeting on Thursday morning, with the president and other board members sitting in a conference room in Tokyo.

About 550 shareholders took part remotely. They typed their questions on an online system, and the president answered them through a video conference system. The shareholders then took a vote remotely on proposals from management.

The meeting was over in about an hour, without any technical glitch.

The Economy and Industry Ministry says that the company was the first to hold an online-only shareholders' meeting, but a number of other companies are preparing to hold such meetings in the near future.

Euglena President Izumo Mitsuru said he was anxious about holding an online shareholders' meeting but was relieved it went without a hitch.

Izumo added it was good that amid the pandemic the online format allowed the participation of shareholders who are located far away from Tokyo.

Corporate law specialist Ota Yo commented to NHK that online-only shareholders' meeting can encourage management to work for greater information disclosure and for more in-depth dialogue with shareholders.

Ota said, however, it should be debated whether it will be appropriate for management not to hold a traditional in-person shareholders' meeting when the company faces very important issues that could decide its future.

Ota stressed the introduction of an online-only format will require management to put in place systems designed to maximize the fairness of online proceedings.