John Gillespie, the self-proclaimed “intercultural specialist” who defended Japan’s closed and anti-competitive business practices (Commentary, Dec. 18), ignored a few pertinent facts and demonstrated some pretty faulty logic.
Since becoming the largest shareholder in Japan’s Koito Manufacturing nearly two years ago, my requests have been rather simple. As a 26% owner of the company, I want the opportunity to participate in the long-term management of the company. I believe I’m entitled to the same representation rights Japanese shareholders expect when they acquire Columbia Pictures, MCA or other American companies.
Gillespie maintains that Koito is right to deny me fair representation, alleging I’m a greenmailer. First, he’s wrong. While I’ve been offered greenmail on many occasions, I have never once accepted it.
What’s more, Gillespie fails to note that I submitted an amendment to Koito’s bylaws last June that would have prohibited Koito from paying greenmail. Gillespie, of course, failed to mention that Koito’s own board of directors rejected the proposal. I’ve even submitted an affidavit saying I won’t accept greenmail, but Gillespie omitted that fact, too.
Next, Gillespie mimics Koito’s arguments that I’m not entitled to representation because I’m not the true owner of my Koito shares. Their reasoning is this: Since I acquired my Koito shares from a Japanese greenmailer, I must be a greenmailer, too. That’s ridiculous.
Last week, Japan’s Ministry of Finance reviewed my most recent financial filing and concluded that I was owner of the Koito stock. Koito itself mailed me a check this month for dividends earned on Koito stock, so even they believe I’m the rightful owner.
Koito--and Gillespie--will continue to come up with reasons why Americans aren’t entitled to representation in corporate Japan, and for good reason. Corporate Japan doesn’t want Americans to have a first-hand look at their keiretsus, the cartel-like network of suppliers that Japanese uses to lock out American competition. Not surprisingly, Koito is a captive supplier in Toyota’s keiretsus.
Fortunately, the U.S. government isn’t as blind as Gillespie as far as the closed and anti-competitive aspects of Japan’s keiretsus are concerned. In fact, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has launched an investigation to determine whether Japan is exporting its keiretsus to America in violation of our long-standing anti-trust laws.
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service has even launched an investigation to determine whether Toyota and other Japanese companies operating in the U.S. are using the keiretsus to dodge U.S. taxes. The IRS estimates that Japan’s tax liabilities in the U.S. now exceeds $10 billion.
T. BOONE PICKENS