Ex-top Japan financial diplomat Nakao named new ADB head

Former Japanese Vice Finance Minister for International Affairs Takehiko Nakao has been named new president of the Asian Development Bank, the organization said Friday.

The former top Japanese financial diplomat, who was the sole candidate, will formally take the helm of the ADB on Sunday, according to the Manila-based institution.

The 57-year-old Nakao succeeds Haruhiko Kuroda, who assumed the post of Bank of Japan governor on March 20, and will serve out the latter's remaining term through November 2016.

"The ADB will help (the Asian economy) sustain well-balanced growth" as it has been growing "quite strongly" following the global financial crisis stirred by the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in September 2008, Nakao said at a press conference in Tokyo Friday.

Asked whether he will pursue introduction of an "Asian common currency" as ADB head, Nakao expressed a negative view, saying, "Given that each country has grown at a different pace in Asia, it's not desirable to create a common currency like the euro."

Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, who chairs the ADB Board of Governors, said in a statement, "The ADB Board of Governors looks forward to working with Mr. Takehiko Nakao and his strong leadership of the institution."

"His extensive experience in international finance and development and broad and deep knowledge of the Asian region will serve ADB well in pursuing its vision of an Asia-Pacific region free of poverty," he added.

Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso, in a statement, thanked ADB members who supported Nakao's candidacy and wished him "the very best in assuming the ADB presidency, drawing on his rich experience in the areas of international finance and development."

Since its establishment in 1966, a Japanese nominee has traditionally been chosen to head the 67-member ADB, where voting rights are allocated in proportion to members' contributions.

Japan and the United States, in equal proportion, are the two biggest financial contributors to the bank.

Kuroda, 68, was the eighth president of the ADB and had served in the post since 2005.

Japan hoped to retain the post to maintain its influence in Asia amid expectations other member countries such as China would field a candidate for the ADB presidency, Finance Ministry officials said.

Nakao, a graduate of the University of Tokyo, joined the Finance Ministry in 1978 and earned a Master of Business Administration degree at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1982.

He was dispatched to the International Monetary Fund as a senior-level staff economist for three years from 1994 and was assigned as minister at the Embassy of Japan in Washington for two years through 2007.

Nakao was responsible for international affairs and foreign exchange policy from August 2011 to late March. As he often participated in international conferences including meetings of Group of 20 finance chiefs, he has a wide network of contacts across the globe.