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Economy

Keidanren chief Nakanishi to resign in June over illness

Sumitomo Chemical Chairman Tokura take over as head of Japan business lobby

Keidanren Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi, left, will step down due to illness. He will be succeeded by Masakazu Tokura. (Source photos by Karina Nooka and Hideki Yoshikawa)

TOKYO -- Hiroaki Nakanishi, chairman of the powerful Japan Business Federation, also known as Keidanren, will step down for health reasons. Masakazu Tokura, chairman of Sumitomo Chemical, will take over on June 1, Nikkei has learned.

The chairman of the business lobby is often called the "prime minister of business circles," and it is extremely rare that someone in the position steps down in the middle of a term.

Nakanishi is currently the chairman of Hitachi and became chairman of Keidanren in May 2018 but has recently been hospitalized on and off for lymphoma treatments. His successor, Tokura, became vice chairman of Keidanren in 2015. Four years later he became one of the vice chairs of the Board of Councillors and has since supported Nakanishi's management.

For Sumitomo Chemical it is not the first time for the head of the company to lead the business group. Former Keidanren Chairman Hiromasa Yonekura was also from the chemical maker.

Nakanishi was diligent in attending government meetings and media events online while receiving medical treatment. However, a regular news conference in April was canceled due his health problems.

As chairman, Nakanishi worked to revise Japan's job-hunting rules with an eye to digitization. Under the old Keidanren-created job-hunting rules, the timing of new graduates' job searches was strictly limited. But Nakanishi considered this method out of date given companies' rapid globalization and decided to abolish the rules for students entering the workforce in the spring of 2021.

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