Amamiya is top choice for BoJ governor post

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: A man walks past Bank of Japan's headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, June 17, 2022. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo/File Photo/File Photo/File Photo

TOKYO: Japan’s government has sounded out Bank of Japan (BoJ) deputy governor Masayoshi Amamiya to succeed incumbent Haruhiko Kuroda as central bank governor, the Nikkei newspaper reports, citing anonymous government and ruling party sources.

The next BoJ chief will face the delicate task of normalising ultra-loose monetary policy, which is drawing increasing public criticism for distorting market function.

A career central banker who has drafted many of the BoJ’s monetary easing tools, Amamiya has been seen by markets as a top contender to take over as next governor.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s administration is in the final stages of deciding on Kuroda’s successor along with two new deputy governors, and is in discussions with the ruling coalition about the process, the Nikkei said

The government’s nominees will be presented to parliament later this month and take effect upon approval by both houses of parliament, which is effectively a done deal due to the ruling coalition’s solid majority in Japan’s national legislature known as the Diet.

The Nikkei report did not say whether Amamiya accepted the offer.

When asked about the Nikkei report, Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki told reporters he had not heard that the government offered Amamiya the job.

The prime minister’s office and the BoJ were not immediately available to comment.

Jiji news agency said Amamiya did not comment to reporters, when asked whether he has been sounded out about becoming BoJ governor.

Kishida’s choice of a successor to Kuroda, whose five-year term ends on April 8, will likely affect how soon the central bank could phase out its massive stimulus as inflation hit 4% in December, double its 2% target.

If Amamiya becomes governor, it would frustrate investors long on the yen and hoping for someone more hawkish, such as former deputy governor Hirohide Yamaguchi, to get the job, said Chris Weston, head of research at Pepperstone.

“Amamiya, if he accepts, will have full reign on policy changes and the idea of policy continuation is true here,” he said, adding that investors whose base case was for the BoJ to tweak its yield control policy in late April would now be reviewing that call.

Amamiya played a key role in drafting Kuroda’s asset-buying programme in 2013 and consistently called for keeping ultra-low interest rates.

But he also said in July the BoJ must “always” think about the means of exiting ultra-loose monetary policy.

Amamiya and Masazumi Wakatabe are currently serving as deputy governors, but their five-year terms end on March 19. — Reuters

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