Business

Ex-Bank of Japan chief Yasuo Matsushita dies at 92

Kyodo

Former Bank of Japan Gov. Yasuo Matsushita, who led the central bank during the country’s financial crisis of the 1990s, has died, his family said Tuesday. He was 92.

The date and cause of death were not immediately clear.

Matsushita was known for cutting interest rates to historic lows in an attempt to aid recovery from the collapse of the asset-inflated bubble economy of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Born in Kobe on Jan. 1, 1926, Matsushita studied law at the University of Tokyo before beginning his professional career at the Ministry of Finance at age 24.

He remained there for more than three decades, moving up the ranks to eventually become vice finance minister, the ministry’s top bureaucratic position.

Matsushita then moved to the private sector and joined Taiyo-Kobe Bank in 1986. He was made president the following year. When Taiyo-Kobe Bank merged with Mitsui Bank in 1990, later becoming Sakura Bank, he took the post of chairman.

In 1994, he was picked by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama to become the 27th governor of the BOJ, replacing the outgoing Gov. Yasushi Mieno.

In an attempt to curb the appreciation of the yen, which was hurting exporters, Matsushita lowered the central bank’s official discount rate to a record-low 0.5 percent in September 1995.

Over his tenure, Matsushita headed the BOJ’s response to the financial crisis that saw the collapses of brokerage Yamaichi Securities Co. and the Hokkaido Takushoku Bank.

He resigned in 1998, before the end of his term, to take responsibility for a bribery scandal involving one of his subordinates.

He was the last governor before a legal revision gave the BOJ greater independence from the government to make policy decisions, shaping the central bank into its current form.