Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn event caps three-day Reuters Rebuilding Japan Summit
By Abi Sekimitsu, Editor, Japan
The three-day Reuters Rebuilding Japan Summit concluded on June 22nd with a packed Newsmaker event for our clients with guest speaker Nissan/Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn and moderated by Deputy Editor-in-Chief Paul Ingrassia. The flamboyant Ghosn, a rare celebrity CEO in a country mostly populated by drab, conservative corporate executives, drew a standing-room-only crowd at Thomson Reuters Japan’s Akasaka office. Interviewed by Paul – a veteran “car guy” who has reported on the automobile industry for over two decades – Ghosn said he saw significant higher sales for next fiscal year after Nissan restored production more quickly than expected after the March 11 earthquake flattened one of its plants in Fukushima.
He also praised the Japanese people, saying that the quake showed they were unmatched in their speed, execution and dedication – a view shared by Toyota executive vice president Yukitoshi Funo, who earlier spoke at the Reuters Rebuilding Japan Summit.
“When you clarify for the people the priority and the vision, the Japanese workforce is second to none,” Ghosn told the audience. Paul later took questions from the audience and from viewers of the live webcast of the event.
A hundred days have passed since a devastating earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear meltdown crisis in the world’s third-largest economy, providing the perfect context for the event.
The Summit brought together top executives and thought leaders from around the country to explore the possibilities and the timing of Japan’s recovery. Our Japanese language website Reuters.co.jp also live streamed the newsmaker event on the Rebuilding Japan summit live blog page, where it posted and tweeted Ghosn’s comments in real time, along with latest headlines, video, pictures from the Summit meeting. Nearly 8000 users have visited the page over the past three days.
The speakers ranged from the heads of the world’s largest public pension fund and Japan’s largest retailer to an opposition lawmaker who is building a bipartisan “green alliance” to oppose nuclear power generation. Over three days, Reuters journalists heard exclusively from 25 speakers about the likelihood of a Japanese debt default, whether renewable energy will replace nuclear power, which sectors are now ripe for M&A and whether foreign investors can be lured back to Japanese assets.
Taro Kono, the maverick MP from the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party who has long condemned Japan’s nuclear power industry, told the Summit that there are moves now for the ruling and opposition parties to form an alliance to push for a change in Japan’s energy policy. The heads of Seven & I and Lawson, Japan’s number one and number two retailers whose chain of convenience stores were hit by supply disruptions cause by the quake, detailed overseas expansion plans. The chairman of Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund and the managing director of PIMCO Japan discussed their positions on Japanese government debt and corporate credit default swaps, and the president and CEO of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group said that the March 11 disaster will force Japan’s manufacturing and other sectors into consolidation. There were also two panels – one on M&A and another on the macro economy – where bankers and economists detailed the post-quake challenges and opportunities for companies and economic policymakers.
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