Mizuho Financial Group Inc. said Monday it has appointed Senior Executive Officer Masahiro Kihara as president, with the beleaguered financial institution looking to restore public trust under new leadership after repeated system failures severely impacted operations at its key banking unit.
The 56-year-old will replace Tatsufumi Sakai, 62, effective on Feb. 1. Kihara is the older brother of Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiji Kihara.
Mizuho Financial also tapped Deputy President Seiji Imai, 59, as its new chairman, effective on April 1. He takes over the post from Yasuhiro Sato, 69.
The newly appointed president said at a press conference that he will focus on "ensuring stable operations of the system and services" as a top priority.
"With deep reflection on the series of the system failures, we will assure our customers of our unwavering resolve" to revamp the group's operations, Kihara said.
The new management team will be formed as Mizuho looks to overhaul its rigid corporate culture, a major factor that is believed to have led to the 10 system failures of varying degrees it experienced over less than a year.
All eyes are now on whether Mizuho Bank, one of Japan's megabanks, can make lasting improvements to its in-house technology in the wake of six separate incidents that occurred even after it submitted in June to financial regulators evidence of preventive measures it implemented following four system failures experienced since February last year.
Mizuho Financial and Mizuho Bank submitted business improvement plans to the Financial Services Agency again Monday in response to the latest blunders.
The plans include measures to improve communication between management teams and onsite IT staff, as well as within the wider Mizuho group, as urged in a business improvement order made last November by the regulatory body.
Mizuho Financial said in November Mizuho Bank's Deputy President Masahiko Kato, 56, will replace Koji Fujiwara, 60, as president at the bank, effective on April 1.
When the FSA issued the improvement order, the agency said the Mizuho group cut back IT personnel and maintenance costs without an adequate assessment of what risks the policy could pose.
The regulators also criticized the financial group's corporate culture to "refrain from saying what needs to be said and only to do what was instructed."
In the first case of the system failures, transactions were temporarily suspended on Feb. 28 last year at about 80 percent of its automated teller machines, with more than 5,000 bank cards and bank books getting stuck inside the machines.
The latest incident on Tuesday last week caused corporate clients to experience trouble using online banking services.