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Thursday, April 3, 2003

Expert in resuscitating ailing firms to head IRC


Staff writer

The government has nominated Kazuhiko Toyama -- known as an expert in turning around apparently hopeless businesses -- as chief operating officer of a state-backed corporation given the task of doing just that.

The appointment was revealed by government sources Wednesday as three bills designed to revive crippled corporations -- including one that paves the way for the establishment of the Industrial Revitalization Corp. -- cleared the Diet.

The IRC will likely begin operations in May.

The bill underwent numerous revisions during Diet proceedings, changes that some experts fear could weaken the power of the planned corporation.

In response to criticism from some lawmakers that drastic restructuring of industries could exacerbate the nation's unemployment problem, the bill added the phrase "a concern for stability of employment" as a consideration.

This, coupled with the IRC's commitment to minimizing the burden on taxpayers, could dilute the revival body's work, said Kazutaka Kirishima, senior economist at Sumitomo Life Research Institute.

"Industrial revival can only be achieved with pain, be it in the form of taxpayers' money or jobs," Kirishima said. "The question is, how much pain is the nation willing to take? I don't think people are up to such pain."

Toyama, 42, served as president of Tokyo-based consulting firm Corporate Directions Inc. until late March.

The government has already appointed Atsushi Saito, a former vice president of Nomura Securities Co., as president of the IRC and lawyer Shinjiro Takagi as chairman of the Industrial Revival Committee, an independent organization that will choose companies suitable for revitalization efforts. Takagi also serves as a member of the committee.

The crippled companies must be deemed salvageable before the IRC can take them under its wing.

Sources said the government has appointed five other members of the committee: Toshio Miki, a former Bank of Japan official; Yuri Okina, a researcher at the Japan Research Institute; Akio Okuyama, president of the Japanese Institute of Certified Public Accountants; Keiji Matsuda, an official of the Deposit Insurance Corp. of Japan; and Tomoo Tasaku, an expert in corporate resuscitations.

The government was to make public the appointment of Toyama, as well as the seven members of an experts' committee to choose which firms to resuscitate, later in the day.

The government has also nominated Masaharu Hino, former chief of the defunct Financial Supervisory Agency, as the corporation's auditor.

The IRC is presently interviewing experts who will be in charge of rehabilitation measures. The candidates are all overseas-educated MBAs, in their 30s and 40s and, according to a government official, bursting with a "sense of mission" to help rebuild industries.



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