Japan CEO quits over backlash of his 'self-righteous' style
THE sudden resignation of Toshifumi Suzuki, chairman and chief executive of Japan retail giant Seven & i Holdings and widely regarded as "the father of Japanese convenience stores", was the culmination of growing criticism within the company of his "self-righteous style".
During a one-hour press conference on Thursday at which he announced his exit, he devoted a significant chunk of time to criticising Seven-Eleven Japan president Ryuichi Isaka.
Mr Suzuki, 83, had proposed replacing Mr Isaka, 58, with vice- president Kazuki Furuya but the Seven & i board rejected this plan.
Although the Seven-Eleven convenience-store chain had recorded a remarkable 43 consecutive months of same-store sales growth through February this year, Mr Suzuki had felt Mr Isaka "lacked something".
After being unofficially told he was being nudged aside, Mr Isaka accepted the plan. But several days later, he protested to Mr Suzuki that his dismissal was "unacceptable".
In addition, the executive nomination and compensation committee Mr Suzuki had set up last month also balked at his personnel proposal.
The decisive blow was the response from Masatoshi Ito, founder and honorary chairman of Seven & i Holdings. He built the Ito-Yokado supermarket chain into one of Japan's biggest during his career and, by entrusting convenience- store operations to Mr Suzuki, the two had run the massive distribution group together.
According to Mr Suzuki, when he sought Mr Ito's approval for the personnel reshuffle involving Mr Isaka, Mr Ito demurred.
Discontent with Mr Suzuki quickly surfaced in public as opposition grew to his increasingly self-righteous behaviour.
He had become so isolated from other executives that one insider admitted "the only board member (Mr Suzuki) could trust was Noritoshi Murata, the Seven & i president".
After the press conference, Mr Suzuki said with a smile to reporters: "There was no other choice."
THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK