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Postwar Governors of the Bank of Japan

[2013.04.15] Read in: 日本語 | 简体字 | 繁體字 |

Newly appointed Kuroda Haruhiko is the first Ministry of Finance official to take the post of governor of the Bank of Japan for 15 years. In this article we look back at the governors of the Bank of Japan since World War II.

Name Period in office Professional background Main positions held
Shibusawa Keizō March 18, 1944–October 9, 1945 Private sector Vice-president of Daiichi Bank, deputy governor of the Bank of Japan
Araki Eikichi October 9, 1945–June 1, 1946
(Resigned during postwar purging of prominent public figures)
Bank of Japan Deputy governor of the Bank of Japan
Ichimada Hisato June 1, 1946–December 10, 1954 Bank of Japan Executive director of the Bank of Japan
Araki Eikichi  (second term) December 10, 1954–November 30, 1956    
Yamagiwa Masamichi November 30, 1956–December 17, 1964 Ministry of Finance Administrative vice-minister of Finance
Usami Makoto December 17, 1964–December 16, 1969
 
Private sector President of Mitsubishi Bank
Sasaki Tadashi December 17, 1969–December 16, 1974 Bank of Japan Deputy governor of the Bank of Japan
Morinaga Teiichirō December 17, 1974–December 16, 1979 Ministry of Finance Administrative vice-minister of finance, board director of Tokyo Stock Exchange
Maekawa Haruo December 17, 1979–December 16, 1984 Bank of Japan Deputy governor of the Bank of Japan
Sumita Satoshi December 17, 1984–December 16, 1989 Ministry of Finance Administrative vice-minister of Finance, deputy governor of the Bank of Japan
Mieno Yasushi December 17, 1989–December 16, 1994 Bank of Japan Deputy governor of the Bank of Japan
Matsushita Yasuo December 17, 1994–March 20, 1998 Ministry of Finance Administrative vice-minister of finance, chairman of Sakura Bank
Hayami Masaru March 20, 1998–March 19, 2003 Bank of Japan Executive director of the Bank of Japan, chairman of Nisshō Iwai Corp.
Fukui Toshihiko March 20, 2003–March 19, 2008 Bank of Japan Deputy governor of the Bank of Japan
Shirakawa Masaaki April 9, 2008–March 19, 2013 Bank of Japan Deputy governor of the Bank of Japan
Kuroda Haruhiko March 20, 2013–present Ministry of Finance Vice-minister of finance for international affairs, alternate governor of the Asian Development Bank

The Revised Bank of Japan Act (1998)

The executive board of the Bank of Japan is made up of one governor, two deputy governors, up to three auditors, up to six executive directors, several counselors, and six members of the policy board. The governor, deputy governors, and policy board are five-year cabinet appointments subject to approval from both houses of the Diet.

The auditors are also appointed by the cabinet. The executive directors and counselors are appointed by the minister of finance based on the recommendations of the Policy Board (made up of the governor, deputy governors, and the members of the policy board). Auditors and executive directors are appointed for four years; counselors for two.

For much of recent history from the 1970s on, governors of the Bank of Japan were chosen alternately from within the bank itself and from the Ministry of Finance. However, this practice was abolished when the bank’s independence as Japan’s central bank was enshrined in the 1998 revisions to the Bank of Japan Act. The next three governors (Hayami Masaru, Fukui Toshihiko, and Shirakawa Masaaki) were all internal appointments.

2008: Diet Refuses to Approve Ex-Ministry Appointments

When Fukui’s term came to an end on March 19, 2008, the question of the bank’s independence became a major point of contention during the debate to choose his successor. The first two candidates (Mutō Toshirō and Tanami Kōji) put forward by Fukuda Yasuo’s  LDP–New Komeito coalition government were both former administrative vice-ministers of finance, and both were rejected by the upper house, where the Democratic Party of Japan and other opposition parties held a majority. As a result, Fukui instructed Shirakawa Masaaki, due to become deputy governor on April 20, to serve in the capacity of delegate governor until the next governor was appointed.

For a short time, Shirakawa acted as both governor and deputy governor of the bank. For 20 days, the position of governor was officially vacant, until the government proposed that Shirakawa should be formally appointed as governor. This new proposal was approved by the Diet.

First Ministry of Finance Alum in 15 Years

The recent change of leadership was triggered when the previous governor, Shirakawa Masaaki, announced on February 5 that he would stand down on March 19. (His term was due to end on April 8.) The government-nominated candidate Kuroda Haruhiko was duly approved by the Diet, with the approval of the opposition Democrats. This is the first time in 15 years that an ex–Ministry of Finance official has been appointed to the post. 

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