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2013年5月 8日 (水)

アジア開銀 責任重い9代目の日本人総裁

The Yomiuri Shimbun May 8, 2013
9th Japanese ADB president must tackle a number of tough challenges
アジア開銀 責任重い9代目の日本人総裁(5月6日付・読売社説)

Takehiko Nakao, former vice finance minister for international affairs, has taken office as the ninth president of the Asian Development Bank.

Since the bank's establishment in 1966, its president has always been Japanese.

While it is hoped that Asia will become "a growth center of the world," it lags in developing infrastructure such as roads and power supply systems. The region is also beset with many problems, including rising inequality and poverty.

Comprising 67 member nations and territories, the bank plays a great role in supporting the economic growth of the Asia-Pacific region.

At its annual meeting held recently in India, Nakao said, "It's important to reduce poverty and keep up Asia's growth momentum." We hope he will demonstrate strong leadership.

Appointment shows trust

Nakao's appointment came after former ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda became governor of the Bank of Japan in March, before the end of his term.

Japan has shown leadership in establishing the bank, and is one of the ADB's largest shareholders along with the United States. For these reasons, former senior officials from the Finance Ministry and the Bank of Japan have assumed the post of ADB president.

However, whether or not a Japanese official would succeed Kuroda was the focus of much attention.

In regard to top officials at other international economic organizations, some observers have criticized the traditions of appointing a European managing director for the International Monetary Fund and an American president for the World Bank. Similarly, there were concerns that the tradition of appointing a Japanese ADB president would be questioned.

Yet Nakao was uncontested for the post. His unanimous appointment showed not only member nations' approval of Japan's contributions, but also high expectations for a Japanese president who would have a relatively easy time forming partnerships with other advanced economies.

While it is possible that emerging economies such as China and India could put forth their own candidates, it can be said the prevailing view is that it is still too early for such a development.

Many obstacles ahead

The major challenge facing Nakao as ADB president is boosting economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region through loans to member nations and territories, as well as providing assistance for various development projects.

According to ADB's economic outlook for the Asia-Pacific, regional economic growth will rise to 6.6 percent in 2013 and reach 6.7 percent in 2014.

On the other hand, there are concerns that countries such as China, Indonesia and Thailand may fall into the so-called middle-income trap.

This term refers to stagnation in a middle-income nation that relies on export growth fueled by cheap labor. In such a situation, a country would be unable to become advanced due to declining cost competitiveness.

To prevent becoming stuck in the trap, it is vital for such countries to accelerate growth based on innovation and infrastructure development.

Nakao needs to put his best foot forward in tackling these issues by cooperating with other international economic organizations and being more aggressive in bringing in private-sector funds.

He will also be tested on such issues as fostering bond markets in Asia to make better use of funds available within the region and formulating preventive measures to avoid a currency crisis.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 6, 2013)
(2013年5月6日01時32分  読売新聞)


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