TOKYO - Last week's boardroom changes at Honda Motor Co. Ltd. offer hints about who eventually may replace Hiroyuki Yoshino, 59, as Honda president and CEO.
In the company's annual boardroom shuffle, Honda named three new senior managing directors to replace three who will retire.
Moving up to senior managing director from managing director are Takeo Fukui, 54; Michiyoshi Hagino, 55; and Minoru Harada, 52.
Departing are senior managing directors Hiroyuki Shimojima, 58, Riku Iwai, 59, and Kensuke Fukatsu, 58.
Previously, Fukui, Hagino, and managing director Kentaro Kato, head of motorcycle operations and former president of Honda of the U.K. Manufacturing Ltd., were considered the main candidates to succeed Yoshino. Shimojima was a dark horse. Now, with Shimojima's retirement and Kato's failure to be promoted to senior managing director, Fukui and Hagino are the front-runners.
Like Yoshino, Fukui is the former CEO of Honda of America Manufacturing Inc. in Marysville, Ohio. He is currently president of Honda R&D Co. Ltd.
Hagino is in charge of products within automobile operations. Harada is president of Honda Motor Europe Ltd.
Shimojima, currently head of automobile operations, is expected to become president of Honda-affiliated parts maker Keihin Co.
Iwai is head of Honda's Japan regional operations. Fukatsu, who formerly worked in sales at American Honda Motor Co. Inc. in Torrance, Calif., and in Brazil, is currently head of administration.
Among other changes, Kaname Kasai, Honda's managing director in charge of overseas production support, also will retire. Moving up from director to managing director are Hiroshi Okubo, in charge of labor and personnel matters within the administration office, and Satoshi Dobashi, in charge of domestic automobile operations within the Japan regional operations office.
Akio Hamada, general manager of Honda Canada Inc., was one of five newly appointed directors.
Changes are to become official at the shareholders meeting in June.