DALLAS — Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens Jr. says a "stiff arm" from a Japanese company that rejected his bid for three board seats shows that Japan is blocking foreign access to its financial markets.
"I believe my experience symbolizes, in many ways, U.S.-Japanese trade relations on a much broader scale," Pickens wrote in a bylined, front-page article in Sunday's Dallas Times Herald. "It certainly underscores that the U.S.-Japan trade relationship is not a two-way street."
"The fact is that Japan Inc. does not want an outsider observing its system from the inside," he added. "And apparently it will do anything--even if it defies common sense--to prevent open access to Japan's financial markets."
Koito Manufacturing Co. last week rejected the Amarillo oilman's bid for seats on its board of directors. Pickens' Boone Co. is the largest shareholder in the Tokyo-based company, with 20.2% of its stock.
Koito's second-largest shareholder, Toyota Motor Corp.--viewed as the real power behind Koito--has placed three directors on the company's board.
Pickens wrote that he went to Tokyo to press for shareholder rights and "was given a stiff arm." He said he wasn't surprised, though, because the Koito board in April rejected his request for representation.
Boone Co.'s acquisition of its stake from a well-known Japanese raider, Kitaro Watanabe, may have raised Koito's suspicion of Pickens. But Pickens said the company shouldn't be wary of him.
"Common sense dictates that Boone Co., Koito's largest shareholder, should also be entitled to three seats," he wrote. "But common sense is not having the upper hand in this whole affair--or, for that matter, in much of present-day corporate Japan."
Pickens also said Japan must open its economy or face a decline in prosperity.