Japan names academic Sakurai to join central bank board

04 Mar, 2016 9:06 am

TOKYO – Japan’s government named Makoto Sakurai, a think tank executive with ties to advocates of aggressive monetary policy easing in premier Shinzo Abe’s administration, to join the Bank of Japan’s board, a government document showed on Friday.

Sakurai, 70, replaces Sayuri Shirai, a 53-year-old former International Monetary Fund economist who voted against the BOJ’s decision in January to adopt negative interest rates.

A director of the Center for International Finance at Japan’s MSK Research Institute, Sakurai has served as an adviser to government agencies, including the Ministry of Finance, and Japanese financial institutions.

Little is known about his views on monetary policy but people familiar with the matter say he has ties with some of Abe’s aides such Yale University professor Koichi Hamada and ruling party lawmaker Kozo Yamamoto. Both of them are advocates of aggressive monetary policy easing and played a key role in crafting Abe’s “Abenomics” stimulus policies.

The appointment needs approval by both houses of the Diet to take effect.

If chosen, Sakurai is seen tipping the nine-member board’s balance more in favour of Governor Haruhiko Kuroda’s approach of doing whatever it takes to hit his 2 percent inflation target.

The Nikkei newspaper reported earlier on Friday that Takako Masai, a female executive at Shinsei Bank Ltd (8303.T), will succeed Shirai, the only female member in the BOJ board.

The appointment of Sakurai would break the BOJ’s tradition of having one female member in its board. But there is a chance the government will replace former banker Koji Ishida, whose term expires in June, with a female member, analysts say.

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