Japanese corporate governance standards, and expectations of corporate behaviour, are undergoing a period of considerable change. The exercising of voting rights on shareholders’ proposals is a central lever in this, as is explained in Principle 5 of the Stewardship Code:
“Institutional investors should have a clear policy on voting and disclosure of voting activity. The policy on voting should not be comprised only of a mechanical checklist: it should be designed to contribute to sustainable growth of investee companies.”
As both the Code, and the policies of TBS’ major shareholder, attests to, votes should be cast, among other things, with a focus on long-term sustainable growth. The proposal – to reduce the level of risk on TBS’ balance sheet – supports this policy. It allows for growth that is not dependent on the volatility of stock markets, creating a safer and more sustainable company.
The below quotations from TBS’ major shareholders’ voting policies explain that TBS’ shareholders have a duty to vote in a manner in keeping with best corporate practice, and so to enhance TBS’ corporate value. This is entirely consistent with the objectives of the proposal.