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Tokura to replace Nakanishi as Japan Business Federation chief in June

Masakazu Tokura, chairman of Sumitomo Chemical Co., seen in this file photo, will replace Hiroaki Nakanishi as head of the Japan Business Federation known as Keidanren, as Nakanishi is to step down on June 1, 2021, due to an ongoing battle with lymphoma, sources familiar with the matter said on May 10. (Kyodo)
Hiroaki Nakanishi (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Japan Business Federation said Monday that Masakazu Tokura, chairman of Sumitomo Chemical Co., will replace Hiroaki Nakanishi as head of the powerful business lobby also known as Keidanren on June 1 due to Nakanishi's ongoing battle with lymphoma.

    Tokura, 70, will assume the post when Keidanren holds a regular general meeting next month. The 75-year-old Nakanishi, who is also executive chairman of industrial conglomerate Hitachi Ltd., has been hospitalized since July last year due to a recurrence of the type of blood cancer and has continued working remotely.

    Tokura said at a press conference he will maintain efforts made by Nakanishi to pursue sustainable development and decarbonization in line with the government's target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 46 percent by fiscal 2030 compared with fiscal 2013 levels.

    "We will make all-out efforts to revive (the economy) hurt by the novel coronavirus pandemic," Tokura said.

    Tokura, a native of western Japan's Hyogo Prefecture and a graduate of the University of Tokyo, became president of Sumitomo Chemical in 2011 and chairman of the company in 2019.

    Nakanishi was first hospitalized in May 2019 to receive treatment for lymphoma after starting his four-year term as Keidanren chief in May 2018. He took several months off from work to undergo treatment, and doctors said he had entered remission in November 2019.

    Since being admitted to the hospital again last July, Nakanishi has canceled a number of press conferences. The business lobby abruptly called off a news conference in April, saying he was suffering from side effects of his anti-cancer drug treatment.

    Keidanren said Nakanishi last month nominated Tokura as the next chairman.

    Under Nakanishi's leadership, Keidanren scrapped its decades-old guidelines for the mass recruitment of new university graduates by major companies. He also eased conditions for startups to join the business lobby and promoted digitalization among Japanese firms following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

    In March, the business lobby appointed Tomoko Namba, founder and chairwoman of online service provider DeNA Co., as the first female vice chair in its 75-year history.

    As of April last year, Keidanren had 1,631 member companies and organizations across the country.

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