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Japan's Asakawa re-elected ADB chief, vows to help pandemic recovery

Masatsugu Asakawa (Kyodo)

MANILA (Kyodo) -- The Asian Development Bank said Tuesday its president, Masatsugu Asakawa, was re-elected for a second term.

    "My vision for the upcoming term is for ADB to serve as the premier development institution for Asia and the Pacific as it supports its developing member countries in recovering from the coronavirus disease pandemic," Asakawa, 63, was quoted as saying in an ADB release.

    Asakawa, who served as Japan's vice finance minister for international affairs until July 2019, will begin his new term running for five years on Nov. 24, the Manila-based institution said.

    Asakawa assumed the post of the bank's 10th president in January last year to serve the remaining term of his predecessor Takehiko Nakao, who stepped down that month after leading the ADB since April 2013.

    In April, he announced his intention to run for re-election and Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso immediately expressed his support.

    "President Asakawa has shown excellent leadership since his inauguration in January 2020 and offered speedy and strong supports to counter the spread of the novel coronavirus infections," Aso said in a statement Tuesday. "His re-election resulted from the high evaluation of these previous accomplishments," Aso added.

    Asakawa was the sole candidate and elected unanimously by the board of directors, the ADB said.

    Since being founded in 1966 with the aim of eradicating extreme poverty and supporting development in the Asia-Pacific region, the ADB has been headed by a Japanese, with Japan its biggest financial contributor, along with the United States, among its 68 members also including China and South Korea.

    Under Asakawa's first term, the ADB provided about $20 billion for a comprehensive support package for its developing members affected by the pandemic and $9 billion for a mechanism to help them procure and deliver COVID-19 vaccines, according to the ADB.

    Known as a close aide of Aso, Asakawa became the longest-serving Japanese top currency diplomat, filling the role for four years from July 2015. He then became special adviser to the Cabinet and the Finance Ministry.

    Asakawa, a graduate of the University of Tokyo who hails from Shizuoka Prefecture in central Japan, joined the Finance Ministry in 1981.

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