Masatsugu Asakawa to stay in post for fourth year as Japan's top currency official


Masatsugu Asakawa is set to remain in his post as vice minister of finance for international affairs for a fourth year, sources with knowledge of the matter said Friday, further extending his stint in a post that usually has a turnover period of one to two years.

A close aide to Finance Minister Taro Aso, Asakawa had been regarded as a candidate for administrative vice minister — the ministry’s top bureaucratic post — which has been vacant since Junichi Fukuda resigned in April following a sexual harassment scandal.

According to the sources, however, that post will be filled by 57-year-old Shigeaki Okamoto, head of the ministry’s Budget Bureau.

The Budget Bureau has a wide-reaching influence because it is responsible for allocating funds for government spending. Its director-general is often promoted to administrative vice minister.

Okamoto had at one point been seen as tainted by his peripheral connection to the tampering of documents possibly implicating Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie in alleged cronyism over a 2016 sale of state land to Moritomo Gakuen.

Asakawa, 60, has held the position as the country’s top currency diplomat since July 2015. He was apparently tapped to stay and oversee preparations as Japan gets set to host the Group of 20 leaders’ summit and ministerial meetings next year.

The post of National Tax Agency chief, which has also been vacant since Nobuhisa Sagawa resigned in March over the land sale, will be taken over by Takeshi Fujii, 55, a senior official within the agency, the sources said.

The personnel changes are expected to be announced by the end of this month.

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