National / Politics

Kenji Okamura to become Japan's top currency diplomat

Kyodo

The government plans to name Kenji Okamura, director general of the International Bureau of the Finance Ministry, as Japan's top currency diplomat, sources familiar with the change said Tuesday.

Okamura, 58, will become vice finance minister for international affairs, replacing Yoshiki Takeuchi, who took over the post last year from Masatsugu Asakawa, the longest-serving currency diplomat in Japan and now president of the Asian Development Bank.

The appointment is expected to be made later this month, the sources said. Okamura joined the Finance Ministry in 1985 and has served as head of the International Bureau since July 2019.

Mitsuru Ota, director general of the powerful Budget Bureau, will succeed Shigeaki Okamoto as vice finance minister, the top administrative post, according to the sources.

Ota, 60, has been leading the bureau tasked with compiling state budgets and other economic measures, since July 2018. Japan raised the consumption tax from 8 percent to 10 percent last October, which caused consumption to take a hit.

Prior to that, Ota, as director general of the Financial Bureau, grabbed media attention after appearing a number of times in the Diet in 2017 to answer questions over the ministry's doctoring of documents related to the controversial sale of state land to a school operator with ties to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's wife Akie.

At the Financial Services Agency, Ryozo Himino, vice minister for international affairs, will lead the financial watchdog after the current chief Toshihide Endo leaves the post, sources with knowledge of the plan said.

Himino, 60, has experience in international banking. From 2003 to 2006, Himino was secretary general of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, which promotes regulatory cooperation in the banking sector. He became vice minister for international affairs at the FSA in July 2016.

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