Shareholders' meetings peaked in Japan on Friday but continued concerns about the novel coronavirus forced some companies to scale back proceedings or go online.
Sony Corp. was among some 700 companies listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange that held their annual shareholders' meetings the same day after closing their books in March.
Sony Corp. saw just 200 investors -- who all had their temperatures taken before they entered the venue -- fill the 400 available seats for the gathering, down from 1,500 last year.
The meeting only lasted 40 minutes, less than half the time of last year's event.
In Kyoto, Nintendo Co. also held a downscaled meeting in terms of duration as well as the number of questions taken from shareholders.
The video game maker also cancelled the distribution of character goods to participants.
Many Japanese companies close their books in March, when the government's fiscal year ends, and listed companies in Japan hold shareholders' meetings within three months of the end of the business year.
Some 80 percent of companies listed on the Tokyo bourse held shareholders' meetings this week and some 30 percent of the total held them Friday, according to its tally.
Hidenori Yoshikawa, a corporate governance expert at Daiwa Institute of Research Ltd., said lingering concern about the virus will likely encourage more companies to hold shareholders' meetings online.
At present, however, the number of companies doing so is still small, he said, citing a law requiring firms to set venues for meetings that shareholders can attend.
But online meetings provide more shareholders with access to corporate decisions and deepen relations between investors and firms, Yoshikawa said, and he expects online meetings to continue even after the coronavirus pandemic eases.
On Tuesday, Z Holdings Corp., the operator of online portal Yahoo Japan, held its first two-way shareholders' meeting.
About 90 online participants were given the same voting rights and opportunities to ask questions as 20 participants who attended the meeting in person at its headquarters in Tokyo.
President Kentaro Kawabe read out questions submitted by the online participants and responded to them during the meeting.
Although the number of participants fell sharply from 1,751 last year, some shareholders welcomed the virtual meeting as it was accessible to those living outside Tokyo.
"I'm grateful for this attempt as I can't travel to Tokyo for shareholders' meetings," said Hidenori Yasui, 61, a Z Holdings investor living in Fukui, central Japan.