Position: Bank of Japan Governor
Incumbent: Masaaki Shirakawa, 61
Term: April 2008 to April 2013. Eligible for reappointment
by the cabinet if approved by both chambers of parliament.
-- A career central banker, the bespectacled Shirakawa has
refused to be labeled a hawk or a dove.
-- Shirakawa spent 34 years at the central bank before
leaving in 2006 to teach at a university. He came back two years
later as deputy governor.
-- The government turned to Shirakawa for the BOJ's top job
in 2008 after parliament vetoed the previous two nominations
amid political deadlock caused by opposition parties' control of
the upper chamber, which resulted in the first leadership vacuum
at the BOJ in 80 years.
-- Shirakawa is sometimes credited with being one of the
first Japanese policymakers to recognize the seriousness of the
banking mess created when Japan's asset bubble burst in the
early 1990s. As early as 1993 he wrote in an internal report to
top BOJ officials that Japanese banks were likely to suffer
heavy losses from bad loans and there could be a credit crunch
and a liquidity crisis.
-- After taking the helm in 2008, he led implementation of
unconventional policy steps, including corporate debt buying,
during the global financial crisis. He then guided the BOJ out
of its corporate debt-buying program as Japan emerged from
-- He has repeatedly said too narrow a focus on short-term
prices would cause the central bank to overlook signs of growing
instability, defying calls from politicians to set a rigid
inflation target. Shirakawa has also said the quantitative
easing policy the BOJ used from 2001 to 2006 had little impact
on the economy.
-- When he studied economics at the University of Tokyo, one
of his professors was Koichi Hamada, now a Yale University
professor and known as a vocal critic of the BOJ.
-- Shirakawa has repeatedly faced pressure from the
Democratic Party-led government to do more to beat deflation and
has sometimes been criticised for holding too rosy a view on the
economy. But he has managed to build favourable relations with
the government, as illustrated by the launch of regular talks
with the prime minister.
(Reporting by Rie Ishiguro; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)