Kuroda wins second term at Bank of Japan


Tokyo (AFP)

Japan's parliament approved Haruhiko Kuroda for a second term as central bank governor on Friday, with a mandate to battle deflation and pep up the world's third-biggest economy.

Handpicked by Shinzo Abe to steer the former economic powerhouse out of a dangerous cycle of falling prices, Kuroda has guided the key monetary plank of the prime minister's vaunted "Abenomics" economic policy.

Now 73, the ex-president of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is on course to become the longest-serving Bank of Japan (BoJ) governor if he completes a full second five-year term.

Kuroda took the helm in March 2013 with a mandate to deploy what was called a monetary "bazooka" to stoke life into the moribund Japanese economy.

He has overseen a policy of ultra-aggressive monetary easing, adopting in January 2016 the BoJ's first-ever negative interest rates, effectively charging lenders to park their cash at the central bank.

The BoJ has also pledged to keep the yield on 10-year government bonds around zero by buying as many as necessary.

However, Kuroda has failed in his mission to hit the inflation target of two percent -- the most recent figure was 0.9 percent in January.

Critics also charge that his monetary easing has pushed down the value of the yen, making the recovery too export-led.

But he can point to more success recently on the economy front, with Japan currently enjoying its longest unbroken spell of quarterly growth since the bubble days of the late 1980s.

Market experts say that with inflationary shoots beginning to spring forth and the economy picking up, Kuroda's greatest future challenge will be exiting the easing policy.

For now, Kuroda has pledged to stay the course.

"We need to persist with the monetary easing policy to realise the inflation target," he said after the bank's most recent meeting, adding Japan is still "far away" from achieving the two percent goal.

"So we're not in a situation where we can discuss the timing of exit policy."

Economists said the government was sticking with a safe pair of hands while other global central banks weigh how to move safely away from monetary policy crafted from the ruins of the subprime mortgage crisis.