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Japan picks ex-policeman for banking minister: Report

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 - 14:07

Tokyo: Japan`s incoming government has picked a 72-year-old veteran politician and former policeman to take charge of financial supervision in the world`s second-largest economy, public broadcaster NHK said on Tuesday.

Shizuka Kamei, the head of a tiny party formed to rebel against the privatization of Japan`s postal system, will be financial services minister, NHK said. His portfolio will also include the postal service, the broadcaster said.

The NHK report contradicted previous media reports, including one from Kyodo News Agency, that Kamei would become defense minister.

Kyodo also reported Kamei wanted the internal affairs portfolio -- which traditionally handles postal matters -- but that the Democrats wanted to keep that for one of their own lawmakers.

Kamei appears to have little background in financial services, previously serving as transport and construction minister as well as policy chief for the Liberal Democratic Party.

A former LDP heavyweight, Kamei left the party in 2005 over then-premier Junichiro Koizumi`s postal reform plan, which involved removing political influence over the huge postal system and eventually selling it.

Kamei founded the People`s New Party with other lawmakers who opposed Koizumi`s drive to privatize the post system, which holds a staggering $1.8 trillion in household deposits.

The postal privatization he opposed was seen by many overseas investors as a critical step to reforming Japan`s bloated finances and spurring investment.

The Democrats and their two small allies agreed in a joint policy statement last week on the need to revise the privatization plan.

Kamei`s appointment also comes as Japan grows increasingly desperate to strengthen its financial service industry and increase Tokyo`s profile as a global financial center.

Although home to global manufacturers such as Toyota and Nintendo, Tokyo has been overshadowed in finance by Hong Kong and Singapore, which boast lower taxes and lighter regulation.

As of 2005 financial services made up just 7 percent of Japan`s economy, compared with more than 12 percent in Hong Kong and more than 10 percent in Singapore.

Bureau Report

First Published: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 - 14:07

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