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Home > Campus Now > Message to the second century : Early Spring Issue (Apr. 2014)

Campus Now

Early Spring Issue (Apr. 2014)

Message to the second century

Utilizing the strengths of university to approach healthcare for the elderly through a diverse partnership

Maintaining focus and always giving one’s best effort.
These are the qualities of global professionals.

Masaki Shizuka
Managing Director, Tokyo Stock Exchange, Inc.

Shizuka works on the frontline of economic information of the Tokyo Stock Exchange and has witnessed the ups and downs of the Japanese economy.
He has also been involved in revising the listing system and disclosure system, as well as the establishment of emerging markets.
In our interview, Shizuka discussed how he developed a strong interest in getting a first-hand look at changes in history, his memories from university days, and his expectations for Waseda University in the future.

Studying at university with the goal of “participating in history”

――How did you spend your time as a student?

I attended Waseda for 10 years from junior high school to university. Even today, I still remember what my history teacher said during my 2nd year of high school: “You are not studying history simply to remember it or copy it. You study history because, someday, you are going to participate in it.” His words had a great influence on the rest of my schooling days, particularly how I paid attention in class. It even impacted my work after university. Before entering Waseda University, I aspired to be a journalist because I wanted to get a first-hand look at changes in history.

However, I decided to enter the School of Law at university. Although the majority of my classmates wanted to be legal professionals and were studying for the Bar Examination, I had different aspirations. This led me to feel a little lonely, so I worked hard to find friends, attending workshops before examinations and mock trails which were held at the time of the School of Law Festival. Also, I felt that listening to the opinions of many people would prepare me for entering society, so I attended a variety of lectures to learn the ideas of scholars. Looking back, I was highly conscious of studying with the goal of “participating in history.” Although I was a typical student during my school days, the 10 years that I spent at Waseda University were extremely meaningful.

Experiencing changes in the Japanese economy at the front-line of information

――Among your experiences, have you ever felt involved in historical changes?

I decided to enter the Tokyo Stock Exchange after meeting with a very serious human resources manager. I felt that I would be able to engage in earnest discussion at the company. In order to maintain an interest in work throughout one’s lifetime, I believe that it is important to work seriously or to have a clear principle of working for someone’s benefit. After entering the Tokyo Stock Exchange, I spend about 20 years from 1996 doing work related to the listing of stocks. During that time, I viewed many historical changes from the frontline. My work coincided with the climax of the bad debt problem and weakening of the national economy. I felt a variety of emotions while witnessing the collapse of the Hokkaido Takushoku Bank, the Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan, Yamaichi Securities and other companies which had been regarded as top corporations. In particular, I struggled with the information gap between listed corporations and investors.

At that time, corporations were entrusted with appropriate disclosure of company information to investors and the general public. On the other hand, rules existed for the provision of information from listed companies to the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Although I was exposed to a great amount of corporate information, the same information was not disclosed to society. I felt a sense of crisis at the repeated contradiction of the information gap. I solidified my conviction toward reform when the Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan went bankrupt in 1998. The Diet was deliberating the Financial Revitalization Law and the Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan was the first corporation to which the act was applied. Despite it being only a matter of time until the stock of the Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan was reduced to worthless slips of paper, the same stock was being traded at high prices on the market. Every day, I met with representatives of the Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan and urged them to disclose information, but I was met with great resistance. It was then that I decided that current conditions were unacceptable and took action to reform the listing system. I felt that it was imperative to establish a disclosure system. The duty of appropriate disclosure took effect the following year, in 1999. I was proud to have participated in a turning point in the history of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, an organization which had existed for 50 years since it was founded in 1949. I felt a great sense of accomplishment and meaning in my work. Today, my life work is the promotion of outside directors.

――It must have taken strong conviction to change the history of an organization that had existed for half a century. What was your way of thinking when enacting reform?

From the perspective of corporations, it is difficult to decide the content of information and timing of disclosure. However, upon witnessing a variety of information gaps while working on the frontline, I felt a contradiction in how the lack of system made it impossible to promote information disclosure. Therefore, I firmly believed that a system must be formed to enforce the duty of listed corporations to provide required information to investors. The Tokyo Stock Exchange is based on investors’ trust that disclosure from the Tokyo Stock Exchange contains the most correct information. Accordingly, in order to satisfy investors, I considered it my mission to ensure appropriate market operation by developing a disclosure system or to realize a market which meets investor expectation. I was committed to doing anything to realize my goal, and I made repeated appeals to economic groups.

In 2000, I worked onsite to establish a listing system for the emerging market Tokyo Stock Exchange Mothers. In order to ensure the fairness of content, we created a system of standards for simple quarterly audits performed by third parties. At that time, I still felt that conveying correct information was essential for cultivating a new market. Similar to how an organization will stagnate if new employees are not hired, a stock market will stagnate if emerging corporations do not enter. I feel that this is extremely important for invigorating the Japanese economy and for cultivating new industry. We need systems which will facilitate the business of corporations with dreams for the future and will help young executives who founded companies in order to resolve contradictions in daily life. One example is the founder of Livesense Inc., Taichi Murakami (2009 graduate from the School of Political Science and Economics). He had his company listed at the age of 25, which is the youngest age.

Cultivate passionate professionals who eagerly get involved and accept challenges!

――Throughout your carrier, you have focused on changes in Japanese history. From that perspective, please give a message to students, as well as to Waseda University which is striving to cultivate global professionals who will serve as leaders and create new history.

The stock market has globalized to the point where overseas investors account for 60% of all investors. Sometimes, my work involves discussion with top executives of overseas corporations. Through such experiences, I have learned that knowledge of the world or experience in working abroad does not necessarily make someone a global professional. In order to compete with people throughout the world, the most important thing is the patience and perseverance to thoroughly master a single specialized field. Find something in which you have a strong interest and continue to maintain focus. No matter what field you may be in, thorough mastery of a single subject will allow you to overcome boundaries of language, knowledge and professions to compete with diverse people across the globe. I hope that Waseda University will emphasize education for discovering and resolving actual problems, thus enabling students to find a field in which they can maintain their passion.

It seems that Japanese students today are too rational and tend to miss a variety of things passing before their eyes. Compared to foreign students, Japanese lack interest in the history and culture of their native country. However, it is very important to study the origin of one’s lifestyle. By combining such knowledge with an understanding of foreign culture, history and language, you will be a skilled communicator and an outstanding global professional. Personally, ever since I was a student, I have continued to pursue a singular interest and mission in life. Never again in your life will you have as much time to freely pursue your passions as while studying at university. I hope that Waseda students will continue to embrace challenges in the school spirit of blazing one’s own path in life.

Masaki Shizuka
Managing Director, Tokyo Stock Exchange, Inc.

Born in 1959. Graduated from Waseda Junior and Senior High School. In 1982, graduated from the Waseda University School of Law and entered employment at the Tokyo Stock Exchange. From 1996 to 2004, worked as Manager of the listing section where he was involved in the reform for the listing system and disclosure system, including the opening of Mothers for foreign companies and the implementation of outside directors. Afterwards, served as Manager of the Financial Division and as Manager of the Management Planning Division. Appointed as Director in 2007 and Managing Director in 2011. Assumed his current position in June 2013. Also holds positions such as a member of the Corporate Judicial Committee at the Legislative Council of the Ministry of Justice, and as Director at the Securities Analysts Association of Japan.