Japan’s first climate resolution receives substantial support at Mizuho

34% of shareholders back pioneering proposal at $1.8trn Japanese ‘mega bank’

The first climate proposal to be put to a Japanese company has been supported by a healthy 34% of shareholders today at Mizuho Financial Group’s annual meeting in Tokyo.

Filed by Japanese non-profit Kiko Network (“climate network”), it called on the financial group, which is known to be one of the world’s biggest coal financiers, to disclose its climate risks and publish a plan to align its financial activities with the Paris climate accord.

Earlier this week, several European asset owners – including Sweden’s AP7 and Danish pension funds PKA and MP Pensions  – announced that they would support the proposal at Mizuho, Reuters reported.

The Office of New York City Comptroller, which oversees the City’s five public pension funds, revealed that it also supported the proposal in its proxy disclosure as did Californian public pension giant CalSTRS

Both big US proxy advisors ISS and Glass Lewis are also thought to have supported the resolution in their voting advice, a move that is likely to have significantly bolstered support. 

Speaking to RI in March, Kimiko Hirata, International Director of Kiko Network, described the filing of the proposal as a "quite new and unknown approach" – Japan doesn’t have a strong history of shareholder engagement.

He described Mizuho as “uniquely exposed to climate risk” given its status as the world’s largest private lender to coal developers but added that investors are “currently in the dark” about these risks.

“They [investors] have a right to know if the company has a comprehensive plan to demonstrate how this risk will be managed and how the company will meet the goals of the Paris Agreement”, Hirata said.

Concerns have been raised that Mizuho, which is a supporter of the TCFD and signatory to the Principles for Responsible Banking, is falling behind its peers regionally and globally, with Singaporean banks DBS, OCBC and UOB Bank having ruled out all lending to coal power projects. 

A report by BankTrack last year found that Mizuho had provided nearly $16.8bn to coal developers between 2017 and 2019, and the financial behemoth is reportedly considering financing the controversial proposed Vung Ang coal-fired power station in Vietnam.