Acting Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa is likely to become the next chief of the central bank as the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan indicated support Friday for the promotion after it was informally sounded out by the government. ( Kyodo )
In a bid to formally nominate Shirakawa as new BOJ chief Monday to end the leadership vacuum at the central bank, the government has informally told the DPJ it wants to promote Shirakawa, currently one of the two BOJ deputy governors, to the top post, sources familiar with the matter said.
The government has also sounded out the largest opposition party about a plan to nominate Hiroshi Watanabe, a former vice finance minister for international affairs, as successor to Shirakawa as deputy governor, the sources said. Watanabe is currently a special adviser to the Japan Center for International Finance.
DPJ Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama indicated Friday the party may accept Shirakawa and Watanabe, both 58, as the new BOJ leadership if they are formally nominated.
''We, the DPJ, approved Deputy Governor Shirakawa so I think it would be difficult from a logical point of view for us not to approve him as governor,'' he said at a press conference, qualifying his opinion as a personal one.
Concerning Watanabe, Hatoyama said the DPJ has told the ruling Liberal Democratic Party it would be undesirable for a nominee for the post of governor to have worked for the Finance Ministry but has not made a similar argument concerning the post of deputy governor.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura told the heads of the steering committees of the two chambers of the Diet that the government will propose nominees for the BOJ chief and deputy Monday for parliamentary approval, government sources said.
After assessing the DPJ's response, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda will make the final decision on whether to nominate Shirakawa and Watanabe as the new BOJ leadership, the sources said.
The post of BOJ governor has been vacant since Toshihiko Fukui completed his five-year term March 19 as the opposition-controlled House of Councillors has twice rejected nominees for the post of BOJ governor submitted by the government. Shirakawa, who assumed the post of deputy governor in March along with Kiyohiko Nishimura, has been serving as acting BOJ chief since Fukui's term expired.
As BOJ leadership appointments require the approval of both houses of the Diet, attention will be focused on whether the DPJ, which controls the upper chamber together with other opposition parties, will accept the new government nominee.
Fukuda indicated Thursday that the government will propose a new nominee soon so Japan can send the new BOJ chief to a Group of Seven financial leaders' meeting slated for Friday in Washington.
The G-7 gathering brings together finance ministers and central bank governors from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.
The upper house has so far voted down two nominees for the post of BOJ governor, Toshiro Muto and Koji Tanami, with the DPJ and other opposition parties arguing that their backgrounds as former vice finance ministers would hurt the BOJ's independence from the government when steering monetary policy.
Opposition remains among some senior DPJ members to Watanabe's nomination because he is also from the Finance Ministry although he was not a former top bureaucrat at the ministry, DPJ sources said.
Muto and Tanami secured approval from the House of Representatives, in which Fukuda's ruling coalition controls a majority.