ADB’s Kuroda emerges as possible BOJ chief

Abe policy advocate may face hard sell to Upper House opposition ranks


Asian Development Bank President Haruhiko Kuroda has emerged as a strong contender to be nominated by the government as the successor to Bank of Japan Gov. Masaaki Shirakawa, sources said Saturday.

Kuroda, 68, served as vice finance minister for international affairs and foreign exchange policy between 1999 and 2003, before assuming his current post at the ADB in 2005.

He is a known advocate of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s aggressive monetary easing to overcome chronic deflation.

Shirakawa will step down March 19, along with his two deputy governors, three weeks before his five-year tenure is scheduled to end.

The government’s nomination as the next BOJ chief, as well as the bank’s two deputy governors, must be approved by both chambers of the Diet. As the ruling coalition lacks a majority in the Upper House, Abe has said he will seek the opposition’s support in selecting the central banks’ new leadership team.

Some opposition lawmakers have urged the government to refrain from selecting former Finance Ministry bureaucrats for the BOJ posts, so as to ensure the separation between monetary and fiscal policy. Meanwhile, certain government officials are pushing for former BOJ Deputy Gov. Kazumasa Iwata, who heads the Japan Center for Economic Research, to be tapped as the central bank’s next head.

Abe will make a final decision on the government’s nominees for the governor and deputy governor posts after he returns from his summit talks with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House. He is expected to present his proposal to the Diet this week.

At a news conference in Washington on Friday, Abe said his government will begin picking the nominees Monday.

On his potential candidacy to become the next BOJ governor, Kuroda said earlier that he is “fully satisfied” in his current position, whose term runs for four more years, and will refrain from making comments regarding his “hypothetical nomination” by the government.