It appears as though Japanese government officials are interested in trying their hand in activist investing.
At least, that's the conclusion we drew after one senior member of Japan's ruling party spoke out against activist investors in Toshiba, accusing them of looking for short-term profits. The lawmaker, Akira Amari, also called for more regulation to protect investors' "economic security" in the case of activists, Reuters reported.
It's certainly an interesting target for Amari to defend, as Toshiba has been under fire due to numerous accounting scandals dating all the way back to 2015. The company has also faced "massive writedowns" for its U.S. nuclear business and the sale of its semiconductor unit, the report notes.
Amari is a former economy minister and an influential lawmaker in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Amari's criticism follows an investigation this month which revealed that "Toshiba's management colluded with the government to put pressure on foreign activist investors to support the management."
The investigation was commissioned by Toshiba shareholders.
"There should be strict monitoring. We need to watch carefully so that Japan's security is not threatened," Amari told Reuters, calling it "not right" that Toshiba was reliant on short-term activist investors.
Amari commented: "Activist investors only think about selling high."
Yeah, come to think of it, investors should really think about driving the price of stock they own lower, and then selling, from now on.
Meanwhile, Toshiba has said that it would change its board director nominees and that two of its audit committee members would step down. The investigation "alleged [the board] failed to take action even when it became aware of Toshiba's attempt to prevent shareholders from exercising their rights."
Japan put forth new foreign ownership rules in 2020 with the specific aim of protecting companies that are critical to the country's national security. Amari has said that Japanese investors, not foreign activists, should have stepped up to invest in Toshiba and save the company.
Perhaps someone should inform Amari that there very likely may have been no appetite for shares of the scandal-ridden company from within its home country.
But that would require explaining reality to a politician, which is too tall of a task to even contemplate. As such, we digress...