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Eisuke Sakakibara, former vice finance minister for international affairs, would be an “excellent candidate” to succeed the departing managing director at the International Monetary Fund, Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa said Tuesday.

But Miyazawa said he did not know whether Sakakibara wants to take the position after Michel Camdessus resigns in February.

Miyazawa’s comments came in a regular news conference in response to Tuesday’s press report that the government is backing Sakakibara and has started groundwork with other countries.

Miyazawa added he was not informed of the reported move by the government.

Sakakibara, once-dubbed “Mr. Yen” for his influence on currency markets, left the ministry in July and is currently a professor at Keio University.

Miyazawa said he has only been saying to his counterparts in the Group of Seven industrial countries that it would be unreasonable if Asia were excluded from the process of choosing the next IMF managing director.

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