Former Industrial Bank of Japan President Masao Nishimura, one of the architects of the Mizuho megabank group, died of heart failure Tuesday at a Tokyo hospital, his family has announced. He was 73.

As president of IBJ, Nishimura led the three-way merger in 2000 of his bank, Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank and Fuji Bank. Mizuho Financial Group Inc. was established in 2003 as the group holding company.

Nishimura assumed the post of IBJ president in 1996 at a time when the banking industry was struggling against huge bad loans left over from the collapse of the bubble economy in the early 1990s.

He entered IBJ in 1955 after graduating from the University of Tokyo.

Following the trilateral merger, Nishimura served as cochairman and special adviser of the Mizuho group. He resigned from the post of special adviser to take responsibility for problems with automatic teller machines and money transfers stemming from the banks’ 2002 system integration.

He also worked as a government advisory panel member for reform of Japan’s financial system.

Nishimura was an uncle of Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, currently seen as the most likely candidate to succeed Junichiro Koizumi as the next prime minister.

Kyodo News

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