Pro-risk assets experts tapped as key gov't pension fund officials

The government on Tuesday appointed seven people, including three experts who are in favor of high-risk asset investment, for two-year terms as members of the policy-setting committee of Japan's Government Pension Investment Fund.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, which oversees pension programs, has decided to tap the experts as members of the GPIF Investment Committee to promote a policy change at the fund, the investment portfolio of which has been dominated by domestic bonds, ministry sources said

The three are Yasuhiro Yonezawa, professor at Waseda University's Graduate School of Finance, Accounting and Law, Sadayuki Horie, senior researcher at Nomura Research Institute, and Isao Sugaya, managing director of the Japan Trade Union Confederation's Research Institute for Advancement of Living Standards.

The three were members of a government-appointed panel of experts that recommended last November that the GPIF not just stick to its current approach of mainly buying government bonds but invest more in riskier assets such as stocks to improve investment returns.

The GPIF, which managed around 129 trillion yen in assets from public pension programs as of late last year, currently allocates 60 percent of its funds to Japanese bonds.

Yonezawa is expected to be selected as head of the investment committee when new members hold a meeting soon, with the panel set to discuss how to operate the pension fund and make changes to the allocation of assets such as bonds and stocks in its portfolio, the ministry sources said.

Reflecting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's goal of promoting more women to leadership roles, Junko Shimizu, a Gakushuin University professor, and Yoko Takeda, chief economist at Mitsubishi Research Institute, were appointed as GPIF committee members.

The remaining members are Setsuya Sato, a professor at Toyo University, and Hiromichi Ono, a board member and corporate vice president of Ajinomoto Co., a major Japanese seasoning maker. Ono was reappointed to the post.

Kimikazu Nomi, president of Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, also serves as a committee member. His term will expire in July.