Tadashi Yanai, Fast Retailing Co.'s 70-year-old billionaire founder, said he would prefer to be succeeded by a woman, which would be better for Asia's largest retailer.
"The job is more suitable for a woman," Yanai, the chief executive officer behind clothing giant Uniqlo, said in an interview. "They are persevering, detailed oriented and have an aesthetic sense."
As Yanai gets older, he's been asked more frequently about succession at the company, which he built from his father's tailor shop into a global brand.
A possible candidate could be Maki Akaida, who was appointed this year to run Uniqlo's Japan operations — the company's most profitable unit.
Yanai said he wants to increase the ratio of female senior executives to more than half the total.
Fast Retailing currently has six women in such roles, after hitting its goal last year of having more than 30% of women in management positions.
Fast Retailing shares climbed 0.9% in Tokyo trading on Wednesday.
Japan has faced scrutiny over its lack of gender diversity in top management roles; only 4.1% of executive titles at publicly traded firms in the country are held by women. That pales in comparison with places such as the U.S., where women make up about a quarter of executive ranks, according to multiple studies.
"It's a possibility," Yanai said when asked whether Akaida would be a potential successor. Akaida, 40, joined the company in 2001 and has managed Uniqlo stores in China and Japan, as well as working in the sales and human resources divisions.