Normally, when you think of the Japanese, they're usually reserved, quiet, and overly respectful.
But there was no holding back the fury of the shareholders of the Nissan Motor Company during yesterday's extraordinary shareholders' meeting presided over by new Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida and live-streamed over the web.
After delivering their report at the meeting in Yokohama, Uchida opened the floor to questions from the shareholders present. The first person to ask immediately went to town, blasting the executives for the performance of the Nissan brand.
"If you are going to reduce the dividend by that much, before that you have to cut executive compensation," said the shareholder who was so angry that the interpreter had a hard time keeping up.
"There are 57 executives in the top management team. Your compensation should be less than ten million yen [about $91,000]. TEN MILLION YEN!"
The unbridled anger was a result of how the company posted a net loss of 26 billion yen (about $237.5 million) for the third quarter of the fiscal year 2019 (October-December). The company's net profit plunged by 87 percent for most of FY2019 up to December too, and as a result, dividends were slashed.
Other shareholders shared in the anger and one even challenged Uchida directly.
"I’ve been a Nissan shareholder for close to 20 years. You need to review what you’re doing,” said the shareholder. “I have 3,000 Nissan shares. Uchida-san, you have 2,000 shares. I have more than you!"
The company had had a very difficult time in the months after the arrest of their former boss, Carlos Ghosn. The very public fall from grace of Ghosn and director Greg Kelly as well as the resignation of CEO Hiroto Saikawa opened up Nissan to criticisms about weak corporate governance and a lack of a check and balance structure.
And to rub salt in the open wounds already bleeding, over the holiday Carlos Ghosn was able to flee Japan and its 99 percent conviction rate in a great escape plot that seems destined for Hollywood.
But there is another matter brought up by one shareholder, and that's the vehicle of choice during one meeting used by one of the French directors of Nissan: Nissan Vice Chairman, Alliance Chairman, and Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard.
"After the shareholders’ meeting, you rode an Alphard. ALPHARD!” blasted the shareholder. “You were in a competitor’s model. Why did you choose to do that, Mr. Senard? You cannot make the alliance successful with that mindset!"
Senard apologized and promised it would never happen again.
Uchida appealed to the angry stakeholders and asked for time and patience.
"I want Nissan to be better. All the top management including myself are taking this situation seriously and working on it," said the embattled CEO.