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Transcript: Masamoto Yashiro, former chairman & CEO, Shinsei Bank

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TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- He is to banking in Japan what Richard Branson was to the airline industry in Britain. An agent of change in a highly conservative industry.

Masamoto Yashiro created Shinsei Bank six years ago from the ashes of Japan's failed Long Term Credit Bank.

The former Exxon Oil and Citibank executive set about rebuilding Shinsei, whose name means rebirth in Japanese, by concentrating on one simple idea: putting the customer first.

Shinsei is now seen by many as the poster-child for a new banking style in Japan. CNN's Andrew Stevens met up in Tokyo with the 77-year-old Yashiro who, is now a senior advisor to the bank.

Stevens: When you talk about turning the LTCB around getting Shinsei up and running, you say you didn't do things the Japanese way. What do you mean by that?

Yashiro: I think the Japanese companies always claim that they care about customers but whether they really care about the customers or the customers' interest or needs, I have never been convinced that what they are saying is correct. My objective is how to respond to customers' needs.

Stevens: When you became the head of Shinsei Bank there was quite a lot of criticism from the local media and politicians. It was a vulture fund taking over LTCB, they were only interested in short term profits. Did that criticism affect you?

Yashiro: Well of course I had to face some of those criticisms of course. To my mind it was, I thought these discussions or answering Diet members' questions were a good opportunity for me to explain what our bank is trying to do, or needs to do or should do.

Stevens: But it must have been quite tough, you were excluded from corporate Japan, from your peers, in many ways.

Yashiro: Yes. So what?

Stevens: So you never thought it is not worth it?

Yashiro: No I never wanted to be part of corporate Japan personally. I never aspired to be an important member of business societies. I never wanted because in some cases, I shouldn't say this but I will say so, it is a waste of time. You have to look after your own company. That is what you are expected to do.

Stevens: Did you ever have doubts about what you were doing. Did you think sometimes maybe I am doing it the wrong way?

Yashiro: No I never had a doubt. The only doubt that I had is that I have to do it skillfully. I had to use some finesse and I think if I do it in a way say in an American society with a Western business experience would, it could cause more problems, and that is why I took a little more time than another person from the United States would have taken.

Stevens: What do you think your greatest strength is? What do executives need to succeed?

Yashiro: I think very logical thinking with a little bit of the warm heart.

Stevens: A bit of sympathy and a bit of empathy?

Yashiro: Yes.

Stevens: Can you teach someone sympathy? Yashiro: I think so. If someone has great potential and in all aspects he or she is great but really doesn't have the experience to deal with the people, probably one does not care for people's feelings then you have to really let he or she see how I handle the situation.

Stevens: Lead by example?

Yashiro: Yes and then they understand "Oh that is the way probably" because you can create more problems being harsh, being so demanding or without any feeling at all. You can create more problems than the initial problem.


Masamoto Yashiro

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