TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan is expected to nominate Masatsugu Asakawa, the country’s former top currency diplomat, as its candidate to become the next head of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), two people familiar with the matter said.
The top ADB post has always been held by Japan, which along with the United States is the bank’s biggest shareholder, making Asakawa a strong candidate to take up the post though there is a chance China could put up a candidate.
The ADB said in a statement on Tuesday its current president Takehiko Nakao, also a former top Japanese currency diplomat, has announced his resignation, effective Jan. 16 next year.
Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso declined to confirm whether Asakawa would be chosen, but told reporters on Tuesday he would be “the most appropriate person” to succeed Nakao.
The nomination will be put to vote by the members of the Manila-based multilateral lender. Nakao has served at the ADB’s helm since 2013.
Japan has played a key role in creating the ADB to offer loans to developing Asian economies. Senior Japanese Ministry of Finance officials has thus dominated the post of the ADB president since its creation in 1966. Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda served as ADB president before Nakao.
The ADB faces increasing competition from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a China-sponsored development bank, though the two lenders have said they are complementary partners in a region where demand for infrastructure funding remains huge.
Additional reporting by Takahiko Wada, Tetsushi Kajimoto in Tokyo and Karen Lema in Manila; Editing by Sam Holmes & Kim Coghill