A Woman in BOJ’s Top Brass Would Help Diversity Push, Masai Says

A Woman in BOJ’s Top Brass Would Help Diversity Push, Masai Says

(Bloomberg) – Appointing a woman to the top management of the Bank of Japan would help promote gender diversity across the country, according to Takako Masai, a former central bank board member.

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As speculation mounts about the new BOJ leadership and the changes it could bring, Masai also said the bank may need to review the feasibility of monetary policy normalization before moving in that direction.

Economists are increasingly expecting a female candidate to fill one of the BOJ’s top positions this spring. If a woman is chosen, it will send “a big message” to Japanese companies and organizations to promote gender diversity, Masai said in an interview. “It would be great if the appointment could be a kind of catalyst,” she said.

The BOJ is expected to replace Governor Haruhiko Kuroda in April and his two deputies in March. Most economists are now betting that one of the deputies will be Yuri Okina, a former BOJ official and chairman of the Japan Research Institute.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he would present his nominations to the state legislature this month.

Masai, who currently chairs the SBI Financial and Economic Research Institute, was a member of the BOJ Policy Board until 2021. During her five-year tenure, she was the only woman among the nine board members.

Looking back on her tenure, Masai said she never felt any barriers in the male-dominated central bank. She recalls that authority was clearly defined by position and the structure did not allow others to get in her way. It might be easier to promote diversity in public institutions than in the private sector, Masai said.

Read more: Japan lags behind on diversity again as women are banned from BOJ race

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Still, economists don’t see a woman as governor, meaning the BOJ will continue to lag its global peers in terms of gender diversity.

Looking further ahead, Masai indicated that the bank may need to confirm whether it can indeed normalize monetary policy before moving towards an exit. Amid concerns of a global recession, the BOJ needs to know there will be domestic demand-led growth, the former board member said.

Maasai also stressed the importance of communicating with the markets and carefully considering price developments.

“The shape of inflation is different now, but I don’t think the BOJ has come to a conclusion as to whether this is temporary or has changed permanently,” she said.

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