Masaru Hayami took the helm as governor of the trouble-stricken Bank of Japan on March 20, emphasizing the need for the central bank to protect its independence and ensure transparency in policymaking as the revised BOJ Law takes effect April 1.

Hayami, 72, frankly admitted the downside of maintaining the all-time low interest rates, but said the official discount rate should not be raised until the economy recovers. He called the recent arrest of a BOJ official on a bribery charge a “shame,” but said the resignations of Gov. Yasuo Matsushita and Senior Deputy Gov. Toshihiko Fukui suffice in terms of supervisory responsibility. “I am going to protect the bank’s independence and not act in the interests of particular groups or individuals,” Hayami said in a news conference, in a quiet, sometimes unclear voice. “There must be friction (with politicians), but if we can’t do it, we cannot function as a central bank.”

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