June 26, 2020
Mizuho FG Needs to Adopt Fossil Fuel Phase-Out Strategy
More than One-Third of Shareholders Supported the Climate Related Proposal at Mizuho FG’s Annual General Meeting
Tokyo, Japan – The shareholder proposal on climate change was supported by more than one-third (34.52%) of shareholders at Mizuho Financial Group’s shareholders’ meeting held on the 25 June. Although it did not reach the two-thirds required for approval, this was testimony of the growing interest by investors in the bank’s measures to mitigate the climate crisis.
The proposal related to climate change was proposed by Kiko Network (Kiko), an environmental NGO, which is almost unprecedented in Japan. Some Nordic investors announced support for the Kiko’s proposal in advance of the meeting and two major proxy advisors both recommended in its favour.
34% of shareholders’ support (worth over US 500billion) 〈1〉has great significance as Mizuho FG announced a contrary position in advance. Mizuho FG should develop and disclose an investment and finance strategy that is consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement, as was raised in the proposal.
Takayoshi Yokoyama from 350 Japan reiterated that:
The Japanese 3 megabank groups including Mizuho FG need to set concrete targets of coal and fossil fuel phase-out that are aligned with the Paris Agreement and improve information disclosure in line with the TCFD (Climate-related Financial Disclosure Task Force) recommendations.
An international petition collected in the lead up to the shareholders’ meeting of the 3 megabanks, demanded the establishment of a fossil fuel phase-out strategy that is consistent with the Paris Agreement, and had received signatures from 109 organizations and 2,470 individuals worldwide〈2〉.
According to a report by Urgewald and others, Mizuho FG is the world’s top lender to the world’s coal developers (between 2017 to September 2019). In addition, it is the world’s 9th largest bank in lending and underwriting (between 2016 to 2019) to the fossil fuel industry, according to the “Banking On Climate Change 2020”(RAN and others). Nevertheless, Mizuho FG’s coal policy has significant loopholes or exceptions, which lags behind the policies of European and US banks〈3〉.
Three college students from Fridays For Future Japan participated as shareholders at this year’s Mizuho FG’s general meeting, where Tomoki Takahashi had the opportunity to ask a question. He asked Mizuho FG to explain how they had evaluated their policy to be consistent with the Paris Agreement.
In response to this, the management of Mizuho FG replied saying that the target of zero credit balance in 2050 was conservative and the bank was aiming for zero balance in 2040 ahead of schedule. In addition, the management commented that it was their mission to promote a (decarbonization) business structure transformation for their clients.
Eri Watanabe of 350 Japan stated:
Such comments by Mizuho FG is a step forward and it should clearly state the above-mentioned statements as a policy, and put them into action.
We strongly demand that the Mizuho FG will take these young generations’ voices seriously and urgently establish a policy to phase out from investment and finance to the coal and fossil fuel industries that accelerate the climate crisis.
We also call on Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, which will hold shareholders’ meetings in coming days, to establish a similar policy.
<Photos of action in front of Mizuho’s AGM and NGO shareholders>
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Senior Communications Specialist, Asia & Pacific Region
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