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New owners bring new thinking to the boardroom

Foreign investors are snapping up Japanese shares and influence corporate governance

U.S. investor T. Boone Pickens leaves a Koito shareholders meeting halfway through in June 1990 in Tokyo.

For Japan, the road to better corporate governance has been a long one.

Capital liberalization since the 1960s left Japanese companies feeling vulnerable to takeover by foreign investors. To stave off this threat, companies reduced the number of their shares in the market by forming keiretsu, affiliate groups linked through cross-shareholdings. At the center of each group was a bank, called a main bank, which usually played an active part in group companies' governance.

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