Tonight Yoshifumi Nishikawa, the former president of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation hand-picked by Koizumi to lead Japan Post through the privatization process, has announced he will step down rather than fight the inevitable. Shizuka Kamei, the minister in charge of revising the privatization plans, gave him the news personally yesterday that there had been a change in plans, though he was not explicitly told to resign (Kamei had said that enough in public already).
This picture of a downtrodden Nishikawa was taken before tonight’s press conference, I think right after his meeting with Kamei. He had worked for about four years preparing Japan Post to become a stock corporation and prepare for an eventual public offering. Now it’s all over. Barring another reversal, there will be no IPO and the government will now re-emphasize Japan Post’s role as publicly owned infrastructure instead of as a potential source of cash for the ailing treasury.
This marks Nishikawa’s second major fall from grace as a top executive, though this one wasn’t his fault. At SMBC he had to step down in 2005 to take responsibility for losses. Financial regulators later slapped the bank with a partial business suspension order for forcing small businesses to invest in derivatives as a condition of getting a loan, a practice that took place under his watch. Heading Japan Post was his attempt to leave a more positive legacy.