This week we brought you some coverage from Nintendo's various comments and assurances given at its 74th Annual General Meeting of Shareholders. It's an important event as it enables Nintendo to address concerns and enquiries, and when handled well can help to stabilise those all-important share prices — that seems to have been successfully achieved this year.
While the majority of the questions are entirely sensible and reasonable, often prompting interesting answers from Nintendo's senior management, some are a little less constructive. It's to the credit of Nintendo's management that it bats these questions away with the utmost politeness, yet we're left wondering just why a shareholder that's travelled to an AGM would waste one of a limited number of questions, when the inevitable answer will be "thank you for your suggestion" and, no doubt, rolled eyes behind the scenes.
So while we may cherry-pick the best questions and answers on an annual basis, it's time to show the slightly absurd side to these AGM gatherings. Below are some of our favourite questions from the last three years that, in all truth, shouldn't have been asked.
Someone needs Google Maps, or better walking shoes
I got terribly lost coming here today. Every time I come here, I feel that you should take into consideration where many of the shareholders attending are coming from and that you may want to consider offering us some conveniences like a courtesy bus from JR Kyoto Station. As I feel this is rather an inconvenient place to visit by subway or by bus, I’d like you to consider more about this sort of thing than enriching the contents of the gifts you give to the attending shareholders.
We think this is a game idea, once the serious business of selling systems in China is covered
I would like to know about the current situation of the company’s operations in China and what problems you have in doing business there. Apart from this specific question, I have an idea for you: I would like you to energetically create software filled with dreams that is exciting for both children and adults. On NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), I watched the news that Mr. Miyamoto, a senior director of the company, recently won a globally acclaimed award. To create such excellent games, I hope Mr. Iwata and Mr. Miyamoto will go through various experiences, including deadly adventures like crossing the Sahara on camelback or exploring the Amazon, full of piranhas, anacondas and crocodiles, together with the company’s other game creators.
Uh-oh, someone says they have the answer to all of Nintendo's problems...
I don't think that the current Nintendo is making full use of its potential. I believe that there is a way to improve your business more and more by taking advantage of what you already have. As I have a specific plan for it, I would like to make a 10-minute presentation to Mr. Miyamoto, Mr. Takeda and Mr. Iwata as soon as tomorrow if it is possible.
This one isn't crazy, but is a tad obscure and long
I want to know the details of your global strategy. Japan has a low birthrate and is an aging society, but there are plenty of children in the world. I heard that in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates there are a lot of Japanese schools for children, and the children of royal families and millionaires have entered these schools and play with Nintendo game systems in order to communicate with Japanese children. As for our aging society, I currently volunteer at a paid care facility and nursing home for the elderly. There are many Nintendo games at these facilities and the elderly people say, "Though I don’t play video games, I study idioms and characters for a kanji test.” If you pay more attention to such people and address the needs of a low birth rate and an aging population, I think you will be able to increase the number of business opportunities. In addition, I would like to ask you to improve business performance so that shareholders can smile at the next general meeting of shareholders. Similarly, at next year’s general meeting of shareholders, I would like to see some young people and women sitting in the directors’ seats. Also, as Prime Minister Abe advocated in his growth strategy that action be taken to enhance English education, I would like Nintendo to develop software which enables everyone from elementary school children up to adults to enjoy learning English.
Because food matters
I would like an update on a product called the “Wii Vitality Sensor” which was announced a few years ago. A considerably long time has passed since it was first announced, so I assume that the development might have come to a standstill, and I am concerned that this type of thing will happen again in the future. In addition, I heard that the quality of the company cafeteria is not so good from one of my acquaintances who works for Nintendo. I think you should ensure that everybody is able to enjoy eating at the cafeteria as a part of the employee welfare program and improve internal communication among employees.
Last-gen free stuff is always nice
Shareholder special benefit plans are very popular in Japan these days. As most of the individual shareholders hold Nintendo’s stock because they are fans of this company, would you please give us something related to Nintendo as a shareholder perk? I do not think hardware systems should be given to shareholders due to their high costs, but games like “Tingle’s Balloon Fight DS” and “GAME & WATCH COLLECTION,” which were presents to Club Nintendo members, could be good options.
Casino games and expanding screens, what could go wrong?
After a PTA meeting the other day, someone told me that they wished the size of the screen of Nintendo’s current handheld device could have been manually extended to become twice the size both horizontally and vertically. It would be more impressive to children playing with it and reduce their parents’ concerns about the impact on their eyes. In addition, the Japanese government is planning to have special zones for casinos for the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020, but it is said that many people are unfamiliar with casino games. I think it a good idea to create an application in which users can learn how to play and practice these games.
Less 'childish' talk of games, more financial figures, please
I do not understand video games and I even feel angry because, at Nintendo’s shareholders’ meetings, the shareholders always discuss things relating to video games or such childish topics as “what the future of video games should be,” while I, for one, was flabbergasted that Mr. Iwata continues to hold his position although he had said that he would resign if the company’s performance were bad.
I hope that Nintendo’s shareholders’ meeting will become an opportunity where the shareholders discuss the company’s business operations from the viewpoints of capital gain and dividends.
So there you have it, some of the more peculiar questions — or in some cases rants — posed by shareholders over the past few years; we will emphasize again, however, that the majority of questions at these meetings are sensible and entirely reasonable.
Do you have any favourites out of these, or some older examples that amuse you? Let us know.