Bloomberg News (December 11, 2016): The Man They Call ‘Mr. BOJ’ Is Shaping Policy Behind the Scenes [Profile of Masayoshi Amamiya]

The Man They Call ‘Mr. BOJ’

Masayoshi Amamiya is viewed as so essential to operations at the Bank of Japan.  He is known inside the central bank as “Mr. BOJ.”  He has been at the central bank for 37 years, and he is regarded as a potential candidate for governor or deputy.

Why is he important now?

The shift in recent months from a blitz on deflation to a long-haul campaign that’s set to outlast Governor Haruhiko Kuroda’s term.   Amamiya is at the fore of managing interest rates and nudging consumer prices toward the BOJ’s distant 2 percent inflation goal.

Why will he be important in the future?

The 61-year-old could also be among contenders in early 2018, when Shinzo Abe’s government considers replacements for Kuroda, 72, and his two deputy governors.  Amamiya was approached about taking one of the deputy posts in 2012.  But suggested instead his peer Hiroshi Nakaso, according to a person with knowledge of the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.

What is his background?

Amamiya, the long-time head of the powerful monetary affairs department, joined the BOJ straight out of college and has been at the heart of policy making for decades.

Yet his path to a career in central banking was far from assured. As a student at the prestigious Aoyama high school in Tokyo, the only course he ever failed turned out to be a chemistry class taught by the father of an official at the BOJ.  Amamiya’s first passion was classical music and he considered going to a conservatory after high school. This option closed when his parents intercepted his mail and hid the application forms. In the end Amamiya went on to study economics at the University of Tokyo.

Fast-forward to 2016 and he’s the most powerful official at the central bank outside of the nine-member policy board. His monetary affairs department drafts policy, and the markets division, which he also runs, has investors around the world on tenterhooks as it buys and sells financial instruments to implement that policy.