Japan former top currency diplomat Asakawa takes office as ADB chief

Former Vice Finance Minister for International Affairs Masatsugu Asakawa assumed office Friday as president of the Asian Development Bank, the Manila-based organization said.

The former top Japanese currency diplomat succeeded Takehiko Nakao, 63, who had led the ADB since April 2013 until stepping down on Thursday. Asakawa’s tenure as the bank’s 10th president will run through Nov. 23, 2021.

The ADB’s top post has been held by a Japanese since its founding in 1966 as Tokyo is its biggest financial contributor, along with the United States.

“I am honored to assume the role of ADB president and to begin working in close cooperation with our 68 member countries,” said Asakawa, 61, in a statement.

“I pledge to do my best to achieve a more prosperous, inclusive, resilient and sustainable Asia and the Pacific,” he said.

The appointment of Asakawa, the sole candidate, was unanimously approved by the 68 members, including China and South Korea.

In a career spanning nearly four decades at the Finance Ministry, Asakawa held a range of senior positions and gained expertise in development policy, foreign exchange markets, and international tax policy, according to the ADB.

He became Japan’s longest-serving vice finance minister for international affairs, holding the office between July 2015 and July 2019. He also served as finance deputy for the 2019 Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies’ summit in Osaka and the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in Fukuoka.

The ADB was established to eradicate extreme poverty and support development in the AsiaPacific region.

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