Is Japan Really a “Buy”? The Corporate Governance, Cash Holdings and Economic Performance of Japanese Companies

Kazuo Kato, Meng Li, Douglas J. Skinner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

We investigate whether Japan's much-touted governance reforms improve its firms’ management of cash, economic performance and valuation. Consistent with an improvement in governance since 2000, Japanese firms hold less cash and increase payouts to shareholders. Improvements in performance are associated with reductions in (excess) cash, reductions in the influence of the banks that traditionally sit at the center of horizontal keiretsu, and increases in the holdings of management and foreign investors. The market valuation of Japanese firms’ cash holdings was lower than for US firms during the 1990s but increased to levels closer to those of US firms in the 2000s. Collectively, the evidence suggests that performance improves in those Japanese companies that reform their governance practices. These findings have implications for other Asian economies, such as China, India and Korea, where there are ongoing discussions of whether improved governance can increase firm performance and valuation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)480-523
Number of pages44
JournalJournal of Business Finance and Accounting
Volume44
Issue number3-4
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Accounting
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Finance

Keywords

  • Japan
  • corporate governance
  • dividends
  • repurchases

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