Business

BOJ gets first female executive director in 138-year history

by Toru Fujioka

Bloomberg

The Bank of Japan has a woman as one of its top officials outside the Policy Board for the first time since it was founded in 1882.

Tokiko Shimizu started a four-year term as executive director on Monday, the BOJ said in a statement. The 55-year-old central banker will also retain her role as head of the BOJ’s Nagoya branch.

Shimizu’s appointment as one of the BOJ’s six executive directors, the top rank outside Policy Board member, is another step forward for gender equality at the central bank. Still, like many Japanese institutions, the bank lags far behind global peers in promoting women.

Only about 13 percent of the bank’s managers are women, according to the BOJ. Takako Masai, a former executive at Shinsei Bank Ltd., is the only woman on the BOJ’s nine-member board.

A trailblazer at the central bank, Shimizu became its first female branch manager in 2010, when she was picked to run the relatively small Takamatsu branch.

She was promoted to head the Nagoya branch in 2018, where she has been in charge of monitoring one of Japan’s biggest regional economies, home to Toyota Motor Corp. and the center of its auto industry.

“We need to be ready for a severe economic conditions” in the region, Shimizu told reporters last month after a branch manager’s meeting.

In a separate personnel change, Shinichi Uchida replaced Eiji Maeda as executive director in charge of monetary policy and financial markets. Uchida will also retain his current role overseeing international affairs.

Uchida formerly headed the bank’s policy department and is known for playing a key role in the BOJ’s unprecedented monetary easing under Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda, including its move to negative rates.

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