• Kyodo

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Mizuho Financial Group Inc. is planning to appoint Deputy President Seiji Imai as its new chairman to replace Yasuhiro Sato in April following a series of technical disruptions, corporate sources said Thursday.

The appointment of Imai, 59, who is 10 years younger than the current chairman, is seen as part of the banking group’s efforts to transform its corporate culture and restore public confidence by elevating younger executives. The move is set to be officially approved by the group’s board on Monday.

Mizuho Bank, one of the country’s three megabanks, has been hit by 10 system failures since February last year. In one episode on Feb. 28, transactions were temporarily suspended at about 80% of its automatic teller machines, with more than 5,000 bank cards and bank books getting stuck inside the machines.

In the latest incident, business clients experienced trouble using online banking services on Tuesday.

The recurrent problems led to the bank and its holding company receiving a business improvement order from the Financial Services Agency in September. The rare move by the government, effectively imposing oversight on a major bank’s system operations, required them to submit a system renewal and maintenance plan.

Following investigations, the agency issued another business improvement order in November, telling the financial group to clarify management responsibilities over the system troubles.

Imai, a graduate of Kyoto University, joined one of the Mizuho group’s forerunner banks in 1986 and headed Mizuho Bank’s branch in Seoul.

He previously served as the deputy president of the bank before being elevated to deputy head of the holding group last year. He is currently responsible for businesses with major corporations and foreign enterprises.

The financial group has already decided to promote Masahiro Kihara, a 56-year-old senior executive officer, as its new president to replace Tatsufumi Sakai, 62, sources with knowledge of the matter said earlier this week.

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