Japan taps ex-police official for bank minister – report

By Reuters Staff
September 15, 2009

Shizuka Kamei, acting party leader of People's New Party, speaks at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo August 17, 2009. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao TOKYO, Sept 15 (Reuters) – Japan’s incoming government has picked a 72-year-old veteran politician and former police official 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 fight against the privatisation of Japan’s postal system, will be financial services minister, NHK said. His portfolio will also include the postal service, the broadcaster said.

Earlier media reports said Kamei was slated for defence minister, adding he had been keen for the internal affairs post, which traditionally handles postal matters.

Kamei, who has previously served as transport and construction ministers, has been a harsh critic of the market-friendly agenda pushed by Junichiro Koizumi from 2001 to 2006.

“I will fundamentally repair the… situation into which the people and the country fell because of Koizumi’s politics and revise postal privatisation as a top priority,” Kamei said at a news conference broadcast on NHK.

A former LDP heavyweight, Kamei left the party in 2005 and founded the People’s New Party to oppose Koizumi’s drive to privatise the post system, which holds a staggering $1.8 trillion in household deposits.

Postal privatisation 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 coalition partners agreed in a joint policy statement last week on the need to revise the privatisation plan.

A sixth-degree black belt in the Japanese martial art of Aikido, Kamei entered politics after 15 years as an official at the National Police Agency.

His appointment comes as Japan grows increasingly desperate to strengthen its financial service industry and increase Tokyo’s profile as a global financial centre.

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.

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