Canon names first female board candidate

Japan's leading precision equipment maker Canon has appointed its first female board member. It has been under pressure to do so from its shareholders.

The company on Thursday nominated to its board Ito Akiko, who previously served as commissioner of the Consumer Affairs Agency.

She is expected to be formally approved as an outside director at the general shareholders' meeting next March.

At the general meeting held in March this year, Canon shareholders saw the fact that the company has no female board members as a problem.

This led to an unusual situation in which the Chairman and CEO, Mitarai Fujio, was reappointed by a slim majority.

Mitarai has held many prominent positions in the business world, including chairman of the Japan Business Federation, also called Keidanren.

Japan lags behind the US and the countries in Europe in appointing female executives. Japanese companies have been scrutinized by shareholders regarding gender balance in the boardrooms.

The movement to appoint female board members and promote diversity is expected to further spread among Japanese companies.