Panasonic’s shift to holding company structure is opportunity for reform

REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao
Japan’s Panasonic Corp logo is pictured on its office building in Tokyo May 18, 2009.

The Yomiuri Shimbun sat down with Kazuhiko Toyama, who serves as an outside director of Panasonic Corp., for his view on company’s management reform. The following is excerpted from the interview.


Konosuke Matsushita focused his energy on the consumer electronics business with the idea of freeing women from the burden of household work. He believed that the essence of corporate activities was to embody values sought by society and to make many people happy. He had a progressive management philosophy, and I have deep respect for him as a manager.

However, what is required of a company changes with the times. Apple Inc. is increasing its added value by integrating its iPhone and other devices with software on the network. Panasonic has strived for performance in its TVs and other products, but this does not match the added value demanded by consumers.

Panasonic must change its business model. Transformation (modernizing its business structure) has not progressed because the successful model of mass production could not be abandoned. This is due to the corporate culture created by like-minded and long-established members under the lifetime employment system.

By shifting to a holding company structure, it will be clear that the top management of the operating companies will be responsible for performance results. It will also be necessary to add new blood by replacing businesses. If a company finds it difficult to grow on its own, collaboration with other companies or even selloffs can be pursued.

If an iconic Japanese company like Panasonic can undergo a successful transformation, it will give hope to many companies. I will do all I can to support the structural reform.

Kazuhiko Toyama, Chairman of Industrial Growth Platform, Inc.

Graduated from the University of Tokyo Faculty of Law in 1985 and joined the Boston Consulting Group. In 2007, he established Industrial Growth Platform, Inc., to support corporate management reform, and became chairman in October 2020. He has served as an outside director of Panasonic since 2016.