MNCs in the News-2014-02-28

Demonstrating the government’s desire to increase the role of private investment in the economy and to reform state-owned enterprises (SOEs), China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (Sinopec) announced in late February that it would give private investors an opportunity to invest in its domestic marketing and distribution operations. Allowing foreign investment in Sinopec offers one potential path to increase efficiency, decrease bureaucracy, and experiment with different SOE reform options. While the government wants to give market forces a greater role, its desire for continued influence and reducing the risks of reform is reflected in its limiting private investment to 30 percent (Mike Bastin, “Sinopec’s Policy Opens Doors to Private Investment,” China Daily, Feb. 25, 2014, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2014-02/25/content_17303753.htm)

Recently, four South Korean women sued Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for US $140,000 per person in compensation for having had to undergo forced labor at a munitions factory in Nagoya during the Second World War. These kind of lawsuits are on the increase since May 2012, when for the first time, the South Korean Supreme Court accepted the right of forced laborers and bereaved family members to seek compensation. In July 2013, MHI, Nippon Steel, Sumitomo Metal Corp. each paid 400 million won to wartime laborers (“South Koreans sue MHI over war labor,” Japan Times, Feb. 28, 2014, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/02/27/national/south-koreans-sue-m...)

37 former Chinese laborers and bereaved family members filed suit against Mitsubishi Materials Corporation and Nippon Coke & Engineering Co. Ltd. (formerly Mitsui Mines) for carting off 12 people from China and forcing them to work at coal mines in Japan during World War II. They are claiming 17 million yen per person for compensation and asking for the publication of an apology in Japanese and Chinese newspapers. The Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary argued that there was no right to file such lawsuit since China abrogated its claim to war reparations pursuant to the 1972 China-Japan Joint declaration of 1972 (“Mass lawsuit against 2 Japanese firms for carting off people from China,” Asahi, Feb. 26, 2014, http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASG2V32L2G2VUHBI009.html; and “China files suit against Japanese firms for carting off people, ‘There is no right to claim’ Chief Cabinet Secretary says,” MSN Sankei Newspaper, Feb. 26, 2014, http://sankei.jp.msn.com/politics/news/140226/plc14022613400011-n1.htm)

The Chairman of the Global Companies’ CEO Association (GCCA) Albert Kim told reporters that his association would represent the concerns and needs of large and, particularly, small and medium sized multinational corporations (MNCs), regardless of region or industry. Kim raises issues relating to regulatory burden and the lack of investment incentives and promised to try to advance President Park Geun-hye’s agenda of cooperating with universities in research and creating more jobs. He said the GCCA would prioritize corporate social responsibility activities. He also noted that his association would strive to help member companies network and enhance CEO knowledge of Korea (Yi Whan-Woo, “Foreign Firms United to Speak Up,” Korea Times, Feb. 27, 2014, http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/biz/2014/03/123_152429.html)

*The information compiled in the MNCs in the News digest is gathered from sources believed to be reliable, but the Wong MNC Center does not guarantee their accuracy. The content of the MNCs in the News digest does not necessarily represent the view of the Wong MNC Center, its Board of Directors, or its Advisory Board, but is intended for the non-commercial use of readers in order to foster debate and discussion and to facilitate and stimulate research.