By Makiko Yamazaki
TOKYO (Reuters) – Big Japanese firms including Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) and Mitsubishi Corp will face resolutions from activist shareholders urging greater commitment to tackling climate change at their annual meetings this year.
Five climate activist groups, including Japan’s Kiko Network and Australia’s Market Forces, said in a joint statement on Wednesday that they had submitted shareholder resolutions for consideration at AGMs of four Tokyo-listed companies this year. Utility Chubu Electric Power completes the quartet.
Activist investors are increasingly turning their attention to Japanese companies, using resolutions that have been deployed in Europe and the United States to push companies and banks away from investing in, or financing, fossil fuel infrastructure.
The lifetime emissions from 10 proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) power projects involving the four companies are estimated to be 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide or its equivalent, the groups said.
This is almost double Japan’s 2030 absolute emission reduction target under its nationally determined contributions towards achieving the Paris climate accord, they said.
SMFG, Tepco and Chubu Electric all confirmed they had received the shareholder resolutions, saying that their boards plan to discuss them.
A spokesperson at trading house Mitsubishi said the company would discuss and respond to the proposal appropriately.
Last year, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Japan’ biggest bank, and trading house Sumitomo Corp faced similar climate resolutions, although the proposals were voted down.
Mizuho Financial Group became the first listed company in the country to hold such a vote in 2020. The resolution was defeated though it garnered 35% support.
(Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki, Yuki Nitta and Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)