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Stringer Says Japan Must Elevate Young, Women in Economic Life

Japanese companies need to elevate young people and women and promote risk-taking to boost the nation’s economy, Sony Corp. Chairman Howard Stringer said.

Companies in the nation, including electronics makers, suffer from a lack of flexibility and need to make it easier for young people and women to contribute and be promoted, the executive said in a speech at an economic conference in Tokyo today.

“Lose them, and you lose the future,” Stringer said. “People’s attitudes have to shift.”

Entrepreneurs such as Facebook Inc. founder Mark Zuckerberg, 28, and Akio Morita, who was 25 when he co-founded Sony, demonstrate how young people can drive innovation when they are encouraged to take risks, Stringer said.

Sony took “small” steps to elevate women while Stringer was chief executive officer, he said. The company named Nicole Seligman president of Sony Corp. of America in March, giving her oversight of areas including legal affairs and communications.

Stringer stepped down as CEO of Tokyo-based Sony in April, making way for Kazuo Hirai to lead Japan’s largest exporter of consumer electronics. The company aims to return to profit this fiscal year for the first time since 2008, after posting a record loss of 457 billion yen ($5.7 billion) in the year ended March 31 amid falling prices and the strong yen.

Stringer, who holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees in history from Oxford University, joined Sony in 1997 after a career spanning two decades at U.S. television company CBS Corp. The Welsh-born U.S. citizen became chairman and CEO in 2005.

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