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Author: | Published: 1 Nov 2007

Tom Young
Asia editor

Japan's bureaucracy isn't known for making public statements. Scandals ebb and flow, but it usually keeps its mouth shut until they have passed.

So when the government does speak out, there's normally a good reason. On August 8, the cabinet office released a consultation paper warning against poison pills. It argued that these defensive measures, so de rigueur amongst flailing domestic enterprises, should stop.

It warned against companies protecting their own interests too heavily, and worried out loud that doing so may come at the cost of corporate efficiency. Aside from the rarity of such a public statement, it was the tone of the white paper that caught attention: "Defensive measures, aimed at protecting their own interests could have a negative effect on productivity and in the long run fail to raise corporate efficiency." Japan has long been married to the idea of companies as social institutions....