Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published in the Financial Times in response to an article titled Bankers Fear Chinese Push to Head ADB, which discusses the departure of Haruhiko Kuroda from the Asian Development Bank.
Sir, The Japanese government has signalled its desire to replace Haruhiko Kuroda as the President of the Asian Development Bank with another Japanese financial figure, thereby maintaining its hold on this position since the bank was established.
If it succeeds in mobilising global support for its candidate, Japan will miss an opportunity to contribute materially both to reform of the international financial system and to regional co-operation in Asia.
The Japanese lock on this position is no more tenable in today’s world than the US lock on the presidency of the World Bank and the European lock on the top job at the International Monetary Fund. The political capital Japan will have to expend to get its candidate selected is unlikely to make the effort pay off.
The best move to advance systemic reform and Asian co-operation is to encourage China to put forward an outstanding candidate and then help to get this candidate approved by the other members. A Chinese president will not be able to “control” the ADB any more than Japanese presidents in the past have been able to. Furthermore, moves of this kind can help China become a more responsible stakeholder in the Asian region and the international financial system.
This is China stepping out of the shadows to play a more assertive role and to use its increasing leverage globally to get what it wants.