Saturday, March 08, 2008

Asahi Gives Passing Grades to Toshirō Mutō

The March 8 Asahi editorial says:

Mr. Mutō worked as Finance Vice-Minister for two and a half years, the longest tenure in the post-War era. He has administrative experience in the financial sector, and has a reputation for his sense of balance and his personal network among politicians. As for his weaknesses, perhaps it could be his relative lack of experience in international finance.

It has been five years since he became Deputy Governor. There is a clear impression that he has faithfully assisted Governor Toshihiko Fukui, and has not acted in ways that makes one sense the “intentions” of his old place of work the Finance Ministry or those of politicians. Within the Bank of Japan and the financial market, he has been considered the next Governor from early on. The government presumably thinks that this is “a highly appropriate appointment”.

Coming from Asahi, that’s an A-minus, or a B-plus at worst. Note that the head of the editorial board, together with his mainstream media counterparts, should have been meeting regularly with Mr. Mutō during their respective tenures and likely has a personal relationship that goes back much longer. So it is clear that that Mr. Mutō has a way with the press as well, a crucial consideration in picking a central bank governor.

True, Asahi, being Asahi, scolds the LDP for provoking the DPJ in the first place by forcing the budget and budget-related bills through the Lower House (which I argue was a calculated decision on the part of the LDP*). But it is clear what it means when it calls on both sides to “reach a conclusion with the big picture in mind”. So there is no need to even wonder what Sankei,Yomiuri and Mainichi are saying.

The writing is on the paper screen; let’s see if the DPJ will read it.

* The LDP reverted to its good cop routine on Thursday and canceled the Upper House and Land, Infrastructure and Transport Committee sessions.

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