Home / Business / Japan’s ex-top currency diplomat Asakawa is new ADB chief

Japan’s ex-top currency diplomat Asakawa is new ADB chief

Asian Development Bank President-elect Masatsugu Asakawa speaks during an interview with Reuters in Tokyo, Japan, November 29, 2019. Kim Kyung-Hoon, Reuters

TOKYO – Former Japanese Vice Finance Minister for International Affairs Masatsugu Asakawa has been selected as the new president of the Asian Development Bank, the organization said Monday.

The former Japanese top currency diplomat will succeed Takehiko Nakao, who has led the ADB since April 2013, on Jan. 17 and his tenure will run through November 2021.

The appointment of Asakawa, the sole candidate, was formally approved by the Manila-based development bank’s 68 members, including China and South Korea.

The 61-year-old will be the 10th ADB chief. Since its establishment in 1966, the ADB’s top post has traditionally been held by a Japanese as Tokyo is the biggest financial contributor to the bank, along with the United States.

The ADB president-elect will be tasked with exploring how to cooperate with the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank amid the rival’s growing influence in the Asia-Pacific region.

The AIIB was launched in 2015 led by Beijing, which has sought to promote President Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road” infrastructure development initiative.

Incumbent Nakao has maintained that the two development banks should cooperate with each other, telling a news conference in Tokyo last week they are in a “complimentary relationship,” citing their ongoing joint financing projects.

The departing ADB chief also said the two lenders are currently different in scale, saying the ADB’s loans totaled around $ 22 billion last year — roughly seven times more than that of the AIIB.

Asakawa, who became the longest-serving top currency diplomat after assuming the post from July 2015 to July this year, has been involved in various international conferences including gatherings of the Group of Seven countries and the Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies.

“Going forward, I wish Mr. Asakawa the very best in his next endeavor as ADB president, drawing on his rich and extensive experience that cuts across international finance, development assistance and international taxation,” Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said in a statement.

After stepping down as the vice finance minister for international affairs in July, Asakawa, a native of Shizuoka Prefecture, served as a special adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the finance minister.

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