Japan's second-biggest dairy, a global property empire and an Osaka-based paint company may not seem to have much in common. But over the past six months — with corporate Japan facing potentially the most contentious shareholder meeting season in history — they have become allies in quiet panic.

Acutely aware of the high-profile activist pressures swirling around Sony, Toshiba and Olympus and keen to avoid the same spotlight, Morinaga Milk, Mitsubishi Estate and Kansai Paint are among a record 46 Japanese corporations that have attempted to forestall trouble at their annual meetings by pledging to scrap their takeover defence strategies

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