Connect with us


Minority Shareholders, Chapter 36: For the Strong Trees of Takano's Dream

Shino takes on Takano's passion as the families of Japan's small business founders come together in Chapter 36 of Shin Ushijima's novel, Minority Shareholders.



In this chapter of Minority Shareholders, I continue the story of Norio Takano. He is not a specific person; he is a character created for my book out of some high rollers who had existed during the bubble period.

As a young lawyer, I witnessed the generation of enormous wealth from scratch. A minority shareholder of a family company brought an action to the court and succeeded in taking hundreds and thousands of yen. I saw it firsthand. Ten years after the bubble popped, I started work related to corporate governance. In this book, my fictional characters tell the story of problems that persist in joint-stock corporations. What is an organization called a company? What if Norio Takano were reborn in this era?

This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual characters or organizations is entirely coincidental and unintentional. ー Shin Ushijima

Read earlier chapters of the series.

Minority Shareholders
Book cover, "Minority Shareholders" by Shin Ushijima.

CHAPTER 36: For the Strong Trees of Takano's Dream

Continuing from Chapter 35: Norio Takano and Shino are discussing the limits of their love for each defined by their positions as board members. Takano, the outside director is married, while Shino is the owner-chairman. "I feel uneasy," Shino says. "If you were taken ill and hospitalized, I wouldn't be able to visit you."

"Then, I will not be able to resign as outside director even if hospitalized, because the owner-chairperson can openly come to see the outside director in a hospital for some urgent matters, right?" [...] 

Takano bear-hugged Shino without a word and stared at the ceiling.

Takano made it a rule to have a blood test every month. One of these blood tests had detected gallbladder abnormality, and he had successfully had gallstones removed by laparoscopic surgery before. This time, the blood test showed that his liver had surprisingly high numerical results. The doctor advised him to get a medical examination because pathological lesions in the large bowel and stomach could not be detected in the blood test.

Takano's Fatal Illness

"There are some areas that we cannot check by blood test, but this time we need to examine your stomach and large bowel," said Ms Miwako Watanabe, his doctor, in October. Dr Watanabe always wore a smile and was attentive to her patients around the clock. She seemed to be a little over her mid-forties. Although she was busy, she knew how to enjoy her life and things in fashion. And she liked wearing stylish clothes like balloon skirts. She had a full life as a doctor and as a woman as well. Such an attitude made her attractive and personable. 

She was a reliable doctor to her patients. Therefore, men like Takano could not help but go to see her regularly. She was the perfect doctor for his personal physician. Takano was slated to get the examination in December.


In the face of the examination, Takano recalled that a friend from high school had died of lung cancer the previous year. Recently, one of his fellow golfers also died of pancreatic cancer one and a half years after it was diagnosed. He increasingly heard the news of the deaths of his business associates. Many of them died of cancer.

{Have we reached that old age? "Will it happen to me next? It's unbearable." But there's nothing to do about it.}

A Sudden Need for Surgery

He was accustomed to getting bowel screenings which he had taken dozens of times. 

Before the screening, he always gets a room booked for himself. He has to take a two-liter laxative in the morning and waits until his feces become watery. When a nurse comes to check on him and gives the green light, he can move to the examination room. Before the anesthesia starts to kick in. He moves to the room, dragging a movable IV stand on his own. Every time he is hitched to the stand, feeling as if he were a prisoner. 

On the day following the examination, Takano spoke to Dr Watanabe on his smartphone.

"We will perform an operation on you at the earliest possible date. Rest assured you are in experienced hands."

He took it in stride. She said that it was not the large bowel but the stomach that needed a surgical operation.

{Stomach cancer…it is totally unexpected.}

He phoned Eiko and told her to prepare the necessary things for his hospitalization.

Then he breathed in deeply and searched his smartphone for Shino's name. He called her phone number, but she did not answer. However, he did not leave a message asking her to call him back because he was not sure whether he would be able to answer her return call. He just left a message saying that he would call again.


Shino's Shock

Soon she got back to him. "I'm sorry I couldn't answer your phone call. Since it was quite unusual for you to call me, I suspected that something might have happened to you, so I was afraid to take your call. You said you were going to get a bowel screening. I was worried sick. It was hanging over my head all day."

"Thanks for your concern. It's not the bowel but the stomach that is bad. I'll have the lesion removed by surgery. Nowadays, stomach cancer doesn't seem to be a big deal, so don't worry. It'll work out fine, I hope."

"Soon? Surgery? Why? But, of course, I'm sure you'll make it through all right," she spoke through tears and could not continue.

Death of the Outside Director

After the operation, Takano was on the slow but steady road to recovery.

Close to a half year later, Takano was hospitalized again; three days into hospitalization, he passed away.

Eiko informed Shino of Takano's death.

"After Takano died, I checked his smartphone and found a lot of text messages between you two. And I thought he would want me to let you know what had happened to him. So I called you. You are Ms Shino Otsu, aren't you? 

"You don't want to hear me say this, but thank you very much. I'm sure Takano was happy having a good time with you at the end of his life. I was totally in the dark though."

One hour later, Shino was alone in her condominium in Akasaka Shinzaka. She felt as though Takano were approaching her, laughing. She was gripped by a feeling that Takano would open the door with a spare key, poking his head in the door, saying sorry, sorry. 

{I do wish we had met much earlier. Why? Why? What did we do to deserve this result? I was determined to let whatever you say go. I believed that if I didn't expect too much, I would be able to see you once a week and keep a good relationship with you for as long as we live.}


A Staggering Number of Mourners

Takano's wife, Eiko, and lawyer Tadashi Ooki decided to hold a funeral service for Takano at the Aoyama Funeral Home.

The sun was as strong as one in mid-summer even in the morning on the day. It was not the right day for a funeral.

Everybody was dressed for mourning in clothes of dark color. You could tell clearly from the fabric and pattern of their clothes that they were of high wealth and status.

"Ah, am I in Sodom?" Ooki cannot help releasing a sigh when he attends a funeral. He is in the mood to thank God for not being a member of the libertines in Sodom.

Sinful people…degraded souls…these souls get together and mourn the dear departed. The soul of the dear departed becomes pure and innocent.

He is working for the salvation of the souls of people left behind, which wears his life away.

Ooki has a secret pleasure that he is overlooking these people from Sirius.

{I have my hands held out to sinful people, but my hands never get impure no matter what dirty things they touch. I believe that I am given a special role for that by heaven. 

{Is it really so? 

{Am I really pure and innocent? Are the assembled here not all innocent folks, conscientious men and women who have been struggling through their lives, desperately seeking the joy of living?


{Compared to them, who the devil am I?}

Ooki was glued to what he was seeing. There were a staggering number of people assembling. Most of them had made his acquaintance when Takano was head of the incorporated association. Even those who knew little about him came to the ceremonial hall for Takano and waited in line quietly under the strong sun in order to offer incense.

Prayers from Friends of All Ages

In recent years, Takano had exerted himself to make the proposed legislation into law. He had often visited Shinichiro Koshimizu, a lower house member, at the Office Building of the Lower House. Ooki had accompanied him many times. 

Takano had been enthusiastic about giving lectures on the legislation. He had often said jokingly that he had been walking across Japan. 

Sumiyo Kawano was seen at the ceremonial hall, and so was Saori Mitsuda. There were lots of elderly people about their age, as well as people about the ages of their children and grandchildren. What surprised Ooki most was that there were senior high school students, junior high school students, and even elementary school students. They came with their parents. He found some other people holding their babies in their arms or carrying their babies in strollers.

Ooki heard the people saying here and there that they owed Takano their lives. Without regard for their religious sentiment, all of the assembled intently offered prayers, wishing that Takano might rest in peace. They put their palms together in prayer, wearing serious looks as though Takano were a relative. Nobody seemed to be at his funeral out of obligation or courtesy.

Watching the scene, Ooki was convinced that it was quite natural. The Japanese, after the defeat in the war seventy-two years earlier, had struggled to rise phoenix-like from abject misery. If they were thirty years old at the time, they were born in 1915. As a matter of course, most of them had gone over with the majority. But their children had grown into adults. They were of the baby-boomer generation. 

The Trees Takano Planted 

Takano and Ooki were also included in that generation. They had reached old age. The children of the baby boomers were grandchildren of the founders. And they were somewhere between thirty to forty years of age. 

They were grandchildren of those who had started businesses according to the joint-stock corporation system. That was immediately after the defeat in the war. And they had children. It was therefore no wonder that he could see senior high school and junior high school students assembling.

Anybody can be linked to a joint-stock corporation. Whenever a generational change occurs, shares are to be dispersed to a number of people. It comes as no surprise that there are a myriad of shareholders who own minority shares.


Each and every one of those attending Takano's funeral had succeeded in making the best use of their long-abandoned minority shares. It was thanks to the cooperation of the incorporated association, which Takano had established. Some of them might have been clueless about the genuine value of what they had.

It was the first time that Ooki had attended a funeral with such a wide range in the age of attendees.

 If an old person dies, it is often the case that old people attend the funeral service for that person. And if a young person dies, young people gather. Usually, people around the age of the departed attend.

Struck with an unfathomable sensation, Ooki stared at Takano with a smile in the framed photograph displayed at the altar. Takano had planted the trees. Their roots having been planted deep enough, the trees were beginning to spread their branches in Japan. 

Ooki murmured, {Takano, something unimaginable is happening here. Can you see this from up there?}

Shino's Request

Having found Ooki from a distance, Shino Otsu scurried toward him.

"Sensei, I'm Otsu from Mukoujima Corporation. I'm deeply indebted to you for all you have done for us. I cannot thank you enough," she said and bowed deeply.

"Hello, Ms Otsu. Thank you so much. Well, Takano…he's gone…leaving us behind." Ooki's eyes shimmered with tears. Tsujita was beside him. 

Shino Otsu opened her mouth and spoke in a serious tone. "Sensei, I have a favor to ask you. If possible, will you allow me to work for the incorporated association? I would like to take over and complete what Mr Takano left undone. 

"I'm talking about the legislation. Mr Takano always insisted that the legislation become law. I don't have the faintest idea who is eligible to inherit the incorporated association. Also, I respect the positions of Mrs Takano and her children. But, Sensei, please, it's my sincere desire. Please let me take over Mr Takano's incorporated association."


Takano's Project to Legislate

"I see. Takano would be pleased to hear that. Because it is an incorporated association, no inheritance is involved in its business succession. Anyway, I'll talk to Mrs Takano and her children about this. I think they'll understand. 

"This task can only be accomplished by someone with a strong passion. If Takano were alive, he would ask me what I thought of this. I would say it would be best to leave it to you. It's my honest feeling. You understand how much he thought of it, so I really appreciate your offer. 

"We have been proceeding with the project to legislate. You may have heard this. We're planning to have the legislation passed by parliament, and Mr Koshimizu of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is keen on it, too. 

"He understands that problems regarding minority shareholders of unlisted companies are basically applicable to listed companies. That is, in the sense that actions of some sort should be taken to encourage involvement by minority shareholders in the management of the company. 

"He also understands that solving such problems is inevitable for Japan to regain her vitality. It is an important field for Abenomics, too, he says."

"I'm determined to follow in Mr Takano's footsteps. I will accomplish what Mr Takano would like to have done. But, Sensei, I can no longer talk to Mr Takano. You're the only one that I can turn to. Please help me," Shino begged.

Carrying On Takano's Dream

Koshimizu ran over to Ooki from a distance and grasped his hands. "I'm sorry, Mr Ooki, that I couldn't make it to the funeral service."

"Thank you anyway, Mr Koshimizu, for coming when you are busy. You know, we can schedule for weddings. But there is no telling when wakes will happen. So people say that the politician who goes out of his way to come to a wake is a very genuine and sincere politician. Please don't apologize for being late. Takano wouldn't mind at all. 

"Mr Koshimizu, Takano had been planting trees. He was convincing himself of the possibility of leaving this world before he could accomplish his goal. Trees, regardless of who plants them, will grow if given water. And this lady, Ms Shino Otsu, will be the one to water the trees. I hope that you will help her as you helped Takano."

Shino, standing at Ooki's elbow, bowed deeply. Mr Koshimizu held her hands with both hands, shaking them up and down vigorously.


Continues in: Minority Shareholders, Chapter 37: The Voice of Takano's Farewell


Minority Shareholders
Shin Ushijima, Esquire

Minority Shareholders is a work of fiction and any similarity to real characters, companies and cases is purely coincidental and unintentional. Sign up to join our mailing list and look for the next chapter every Saturday on JAPAN Forward.

Author: Shin Ushijima

The founding partner of Ushijima & Partners, lawyer Shin Ushijima has an enormous wealth of experience in international transactions, mergers, and acquisitions, dispute resolution, system development, anti-monopoly law, labor, and tax law. Concurrently, he heads an NPO called the "Japan Corporate Governance Network." And in his leisure moments, he writes fiction. Additional details on Shin Ushijima's career, awards, publications, and more are available at his website: Ushijima & Partners, Attorneys-at-Law.


We'll send you an email when a new installment has been published.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.



We'll send you an email when a new installment has been published.

Read our privacy policy for more info.

Our Partners