Japan nominates vice finance minister to lead ADB, to replace Kuroda as he becomes BOJ chief

TOKYO – Japan has nominated Takehiko Nakao, its deputy finance minister for international affairs, to become president of the Asian Development Bank.

The Finance Ministry proposed that Nakao succeed current ADB president Haruhiko Kuroda, who has been nominated to become Japan’s next central bank governor and resigned as ADB president effective March 18.

Japan nominates the president of the Manila, Philippines-based regional lender due to its status as the ADB’s biggest donor. Kuroda’s planned departure has raised speculation that China might seek a chance to lead the bank.

Finance Minister Taro Aso said Thursday that he believed Nakao, a 35-year Finance Ministry veteran who mainly handles Japan’s currency affairs, was the best qualified person for the job.

Aso said he expected the ADB president to be chosen on an “open, transparent and merit basis.”

Kuroda, 68, had previously served as deputy finance minister and was Japan’s top financial diplomat. He had served as ADB president since 2005.

Like Kuroda, Nakao is a fluent English speaker.

In a statement, Nakao cited education, infrastructure, the environment and financial development and co-operation as key tasks for the bank as it focuses on its mission of helping more than 800 million people in the Asian-Pacific region escape absolute poverty.

“I will ensure that the ADB be backed by sufficient financial resources to support the needs of member countries,” he said.

The government expects to win parliamentary approval for Kuroda’s nomination to head the Bank of Japan after its current governor, Masaaki Shirakawa, steps down on March 19.