Kabunushi(shareholders) Ombudsman was founded in Osaka in January 1996. It is a nonprofit organization consisting of lawyers, accountants, academics, shareholders and other citizens.

In Japan, corporate shareholders generally have a large majority of stocks of each other corporations through a system of cross-shareholding within interlocking corporate groups. Private investors' interests consequently receive little attention. As proof of it, the majority of firms hold their shareholders' meetings on the same day in June, and end in less than 30 minutes, leaving no time for comments from the floor.

Important management decisions in Japanese firms are made by an informal board known as the "jyomukai", which consists of several executives. The actual boards of directors are obliged to simply rubberstamp the "jyomukai's" decisions after the fact. The large number of corporate scandals uncovered in Japan recently indicates the lack of a system of internal accountability. It is also clear that there is no mechanism to insure the public disclosure necessary for common shareholders and other citizens to monitor and criticize corporate wrongdoing.

The Kabunushi Ombudsman is dedicated to the goal of reforming Japanese management practices to incorporate the views of ordinary shareholders and citizens. First, we will exercise the legal rights of common shareholders and work to improve their status in corporations. Second, we will monitor corporate activity, using lawsuits as necessary to force disclosure. Third, we will praise and publicize those corporations that improve working conditions, participate in volunteer activities, practice philanthropy, protect the environment, employ the handicapped, and engage in full disclosure of their activities.

Corporations have a strong influence in contemporary Japan. Good corporations produce a good society. We urge all shareholders, citizens and professionals to join with us in our movement to foster corporate reforms and built a better society.

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