Amid increasing concerns over climate inaction, shareholders nearly vote out Canon Chairman and CEO, Fujio Mitarai
April 13, 2023
Hong Kong, 13 April 2023 – In a surprising turn, 49.4% of Canon Inc.’s shareholders voted to remove Chairman and CEO, Fujio Mitarai, from his position on the board at the 2023 Annual General Meeting (AGM), just shy of the > 50% vote required to do so.
This is a significant increase from the 2022 AGM, which saw only 24.7% of shareholders voting against Mr. Mitarai’s election.
The most commonly cited rationale for voters against Mr. Mitarai in 2022 were governance concerns, particularly his non-independent nature, in addition to the lack of gender diversity on the board.
While the 2023 rationale data has not yet been released, Transition Asia believes that growing concern and publicity over Canon’s poor climate performance is a likely cause for the vast increase in votes against Mr. Mitarai’s leadership.
In 2022, Canon made an unusual move amidst increasing climate ambition from industry and competitors: the company decreased its 2030 absolute emissions reduction target, with the previous 50% reduction from 2008 levels replaced by 30% from 2018 levels. Under Canon’s current plan, they were not on track to meet the original 50% target, so they instead lowered it to avoid committing to genuine climate action.
Our previous analysis further reveals that nearly all of Canon’s peers have renewable energy targets by 2030 or 2050, with Ricoh and Fujifilm setting 50% targets by 2030. In comparison, Canon has a renewable energy target of 4.9% by 2023, and no other long-term targets.
Further, the Canon Institute for Global Studies (CIGS), of which Mr. Mitarai is Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, has released research opposing the expansion of renewable energy in Japan, undermining Japan’s overall energy transition and commitment to its Basic Energy Plan. CIGS’ Director of the Energy Environment Unit, Taishi Sugiyama, is also an outspoken climate denier.
“Transition Asia estimates that under current plans, Canon will only achieve a 27.6% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030 compared to 2010, which is far short of the IPCC’s recommendation for 45% reduction for the same period,” comments Lauren Huleatt, Transition Asia’s Program Manager. “Mr. Mitarai’s leadership has rightly been called into question and will hopefully lead to action on climate before next year’s vote.”
Notes to editor
- Transition Asia’s research on Canon’s new 2030 climate targets (also available in Japanese) and peer ranking of renewable energy commitments are available here. The methodology used to conduct the former analysis can be found here.
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About Transition Asia
Founded in 2021, Transition Asia is a Hong Kong-based non-profit think tank that focuses on driving 1.5°C-aligned corporate climate action in East Asia through in-depth sectoral and policy analysis, investor insights, and strategic engagement. Transition Asia works with corporate, finance, and policy stakeholders across the globe to achieve transformative change for a net-zero, resilient future. Visit transitionasia.org or follow us @transitionasia to learn more.