By Henry Rogers
Fujitec, a major Japanese company that has been in business for the last 75 years, has come into the spotlight over the last couple of months. Fujitec is of the Japanese archipelago’s largest elevator manufacturers and has recently had a significant portion of its stocks purchased by a foreign investment company. The company, Oasis, has been accused of pressuring out top executives, directors, and members of the board that disagree with them after this deal. The investor had the last chairman of the company and a member of the company’s founding family removed from his position.
Takakazu Uchiyama and a delegation representing the “Free Fujitec” movement held a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ) today. This conference was held because the delegation wanted to highlight their new proposal for the upcoming shareholders’ meeting.
Oasis only holds 17% of the company’s shares, which allows them to put directors and other key positions in place. This also allowed them to remove Mr. Uchiyama from his position at the company after levying serious allegations.
The Free Fujitec movement takes issue with many of Oasis’ business practices. The group spoke on national security as well as economic security. Regarding national security, the speakers pointed out that since Fujitec is one of Japan’s largest elevator companies, its elevators are in airports and important government buildings such as the Ministry of Defense. While many might react to this with “it’s just an elevator,” modern elevators have cameras with microphones, and many are now equipped with face recognition software. Fujitec has a location where all of their elevators are controlled remotely, as well as some of the elevators having the ability to be controlled by a smartphone. If Oasis is able to execute a full hostile takeover, this will mean a foreign company will have access to these elevators.
On an economic security level, the delegation is afraid for the future of Fujitec. Oasis has a clear goal to sell Fujitec to another company— creating short-term profits but severely limiting the company’s growth and damaging many employees’ futures.
And Oasis has a very poor track record when it comes to investing in firms– at least, this is what was emphasized by the group’s presentation. They showed three companies that Oasis had invested in— Sun Corporation, Raysum, and Tenma — all of which took a negative turn after the investment. This is on top of the company’s legal troubles with previous investments all over the world, including a previous case in Japan.
One of the primary issues that the Free Fujitec group is trying to tackle is the removal and replacement of leadership. The group has assembled what they think is the primer group to take over for those they view as Oasis’s people. Many of those candidates were at the press conference and spoke. Those speaking were Kazuyoshi Kimura, Kenji Uenishi, Hiroki Okimoto, and Hiroyuki Kawai.
At the conference, Takakazu Uchiyama emphasized that it was not just about the money and the power for them that it was about the company and the employees. He explained that he wants “one board, one company, one Fujitech.”
Takakazu Uchiyama was asked how he felt about the accusations that were levied against him. Oasis has accused Mr. Uchiyama of misuse of power and selling himself company property at a discount. The misuse of power allegation was that Mr. Uchiyama was using company employees to tend his garden.
The response to these allegations by the ex-corporate chairman was clear: this is “fake news.” He explained that the gardener was indeed an employee of the company, but he was being paid privately after hours.
Mr. Uchiyama is currently suing Oasis for defamation and is claiming 1.7 billion yen in damages.
This corporate battle will be ongoing, but the direction it will go will likely be determined on June 21, when Fujitec holds its Annual General Meeting.