Koichiro Chiwata, head of Japan equity research at Barclays Plc, is trading in his spreadsheets for the blue waters of Okinawa, ending a career that spanned the country’s 1980s asset bubble and the 23-year slump that followed.
Chiwata, 54, left Barclays in Tokyo yesterday to start a diving center with friends on Ishigaki Island, in the Pacific Ocean east of Taiwan. He was inspired by a previous visit to Ishigaki on a trip with his 85-year-old father and two sons to see Okinawa’s brilliant corals and tropical fish, he said in a telephone interview.
“I will have about 20 years to go if I live until 75,” Chiwata said. “That’s how much time I have left to do something with my life. I want to show my kids I’m pouring my energy into what I believe in and want to do, no matter how small it is.”
Housing-sector analyst Takashi Hashimoto will take over Chiwata’s role, according to Barclays’s spokesman Kyota Narimatsu, who also confirmed the resignation. Chiwata joined Barclays after the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., where he was Tokyo-based head of Japan equity research.
Chiwata started his career at Nomura Holdings Inc. in 1984 five years before Japan’s stock market peaked and began a 23-year, more-than-70 percent slide. He is switching careers just as the market rallies on optimism Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s new government will end the country’s long bout of deflation.
His departure comes as Barclays, Britain’s second-largest bank, plans to eliminate about 70 jobs across Asia, two people with knowledge of the matter said this month. Investment banks are cutting jobs in equities faster than any other division as revenue recovers at a slower pace than the rest of their businesses and more trading is automated. Employees on stocks desks fell by 8.5 percent globally in the first nine months of last year, according to a survey by industry-analytics firm Coalition Ltd.
A New Life
While his new business is in Okinawa, Chiwata will continue to live in Tokyo. He said he’s preparing for the opening, with the first guests coming on March 16. Divers are drawn to the waters of Ishigaki Island to see manta rays, clownfish and the double-lined fusilier as well as an abundance of blue coral.
Two events in particular convinced Chiwata to change his life. The January 2011 death of a friend in his 50s from cancer reminded Chiwata how short life could be. The other was taking the diving trip to Okinawa with his father, who has since suffered a stroke and now lives in a nursing home near Tokyo.
“Back then, I was just a son doing good for his dad but now I’m so glad we did it,” he said. “I’ve shown him the video. He can’t speak. He can’t walk any longer, but he can recognize it and smile.”