Bank of Japan Gov. Masaaki Shirakawa said Tuesday he will step down as head of the central bank March 19, before his term expires April 8.
Shirakawa told reporters after a meeting of a government panel that he has conveyed his intention to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
He said he wants to quit March 19 as that is the day the five-year tenure of his two deputies ends.
“I want to enable (the bank) to start the new leadership all together” he said.
It was not immediately known if Abe accepted Shirakawa’s early departure.
Abe has threatened to change a law mandating the BOJ’s independence if it does not fall into line with his administration’s demands for aggressive easing measures.
Under this pressure, the BOJ said last month it will adopt a 2 percent inflation goal as demanded by the new Abe government in a bid to beat the deflation that has haunted the economy for years.
The BOJ also unveiled an unlimited asset-purchase scheme — similar to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing — to start next year.
Only days later, however, Shirakawa cast doubt on pursuing the target and said pressure on central banks has “risen globally more than ever.”
The head of Germany’s Bundesbank, Jens Weidmann, warned last month about what he described as government meddling in monetary policy.
“We are witnessing disturbing abuses . . . where the new government is interfering massively in the affairs of the central bank, calling forcefully for a more aggressive monetary policy,” he said, citing Japan as an example.