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Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013

CABINET INTERVIEW

Next BOJ governor must share 'sense of crisis,' Amari says


Staff writer

Whoever is appointed Bank of Japan governor in April should be able to communicate well with the markets and share a keen sense of crisis with the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, new economic revitalization minister Akira Amari said.

News photo
Akira Amari

"It's very important that the new governor share this sense of crisis and realize Japan is losing its position as a major economic power," Amari, one of Abe's closest allies, said in a recent interview with The Japan Times and other media companies.

"We have no intention of weakening the central bank's independence . . . but we'd like to create a system where (the BOJ) can share the sense of crisis as an organization of the state," he said.

Amari also said, without elaborating, that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party won't support the radical arguments advocated by Your Party, a minor force led by Lower House member Yoshimi Watanabe.

Your Party has urged that the BOJ law be revised to give the Cabinet the power to dismiss the BOJ governor and vice governors if both chambers of the Diet approve.

Amari is among the key Cabinet members on the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, an advisory panel that wielded great influence under past LDP-led governments.

Sessions of the council are expected to be regularly attended by the BOJ governor, who is expected to be under constant government pressure to toe the party's policy line.

BOJ Gov. Masaaki Shirakawa's term expires April 8, and economists and market players are closely following the search for his replacement.

Whoever is nominated will have to be approved by majority votes in both chambers of the Diet.

Amari said that this time, the government chose younger business leaders from the private sector to join the council because they can better grasp the nation's urgent economic situation in "real time."

Under the previous LDP-led government, which lasted until September 2009, the influential council would always have the head of Keidanren, the powerful business lobby, among its four private-sector members.

But not this time. Keidanren chief Hiromasa Yonekura, also chairman of Sumitomo Chemical, is not included.

Yonekura once slammed Abe's call for more aggressive financial measures as "just reckless." He later retracted the remark and apologized.

Amari said the government should quickly conclude whether Japan should participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade talks led by the United States.

"I have a keener sense of urgency about the schedule" than LDP Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba, Amari said. Ishiba has said the government should reach a conclusion before the Upper House election next summer.

"I wonder if everything (on the trade talks) will be decided by the Upper House election," Amari said.

The LDP's position is that Japan should oppose participating in the TPP talks if the other members back its overriding principle that no trade tariffs whatsoever should remain in place.

Amari said he hopes the U.S. will take action before the summit this month between Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama.

"We can initiate no steps (toward the TPP) under the current status quo," he said, indicating the parties now engaged, particularly the U.S., must smooth the path for Japan to participate.

Many LDP supporters, particularly farmers, strongly oppose participation in the TPP talks because they fear the loss of agricultural tariffs will doom Japanese farming.



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The Japan Times

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