May 24, 2017 / 1:21 AM / 4 months ago

Japan's upper house of parliament approves two government nominees for BOJ board

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s upper house of parliament approved on Wednesday the two government nominees for the Bank of Japan’s policy board, paving the way for the nominations to sail through the lower chamber where the ruling coalition has a comfortable majority.

The nominations to the nine-member BOJ board of a reflation-minded economist and an executive from Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ - one of Japan’s biggest commercial banks - were seen as maintaining the status quo on monetary policy.

One of the nominees, Goushi Kataoka, a 44-year-old economist at Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting, has been a vocal advocate of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s reflationist policies including the central bank’s massive asset-buying program.

The other nominee to join the board is 63-year-old Hitoshi Suzuki, a director for Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.

Little is known of Suzuki’s stance on monetary policy, though he is unlikely to rock the boat given his background as a banker from one of Japan’s top financial institutions.

The two would replace former market economists Takahide Kiuchi and Takehiro Sato, whose five-year terms end on July 23.

The nominations suggest BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda would have fewer opponents of his massive stimulus program. Both Kiuchi and Sato were openly against keeping the central bank’s unorthodox policy in place for too long.

An advocate of aggressive asset purchases, Kataoka has called for reigniting Japan’s economy through bold monetary and fiscal stimulus measures.

Some analysts say Suzuki may serve as a counter-balance to a board dominated by reflationist-minded members, as he could be more vocal of the pain ultra-low interest rates are inflicting on banks.

Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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