Japanese pharmaceutical companies have historically been thought of as stodgy, insular and opaque, but that is changing fast. One year into the job, Kyowa Hakko Kirin Co. Ltd.'s CEO is building his company along lines that would sound familiar to any Western biopharma CEO: growing organically by combining the company's technology - much of which he helped discover - with targets out of academia.

Nobuo Hanai became president and CEO last March. To compete in today's environment, his senior management has concluded KHK must transform itself from a Japan-centric company into a global specialty pharmaceutical player.