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Glass ceiling breached

Naming a woman to a senior management position of a Japanese brokerage would have been unthinkable in Japan's securities industry as recently as 10 years ago. Of course, back then Japanese brokerages were raking in commissions from Japan's overheating equities market.

Kankaku Securities, owned by Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank (DKB) has broken the taboo, and in May appointed Junko Suzuki to the post of managing director.

"I don't think my becoming general manager has anything to do with my being a woman," Suzuki told Euromoney.

Still, the announcement of Suzuki's elevation did coincide with the brokerage admitting that it lost ¥14 billion (just above $100 million) last year. The firm's combined losses for the past seven years come to ¥246 billion, or about $2 billion.

According to industry sources, majority shareholder DKB has been pushing for changes at Kankaku. Suzuki's appointment seems to be one of them. The firm also plans to close overseas operations, decrease domestic branches and staff levels by a third, and cut the number of directors from 28 to 14. And in May Kankaku opened a branch staffed entirely by women.

Kankaku has also requested ¥20 billion to ¥40 billion more capital from its largest shareholder.

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