October 13, 2016 5:30 am JST
BOJ Watch

Kuroda makes airport dash for G-20 face time

MOYURU BABA, Nikkei staff writer

TOKYO -- Questions about "helicopter money" nearly caused Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda to miss a plane to Washington for a Group of 20 meeting.

G-20 finance ministers and central bank chiefs gathered in the U.S. capital Thursday night. Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso had decided to skip the meeting to concentrate on a supplementary spending bill and other legislation working its way through Japan's parliament.

But Kuroda was also supposed to make an appearance in the upper house budget committee, raising the possibility of a Japanese no-show at the G-20 meeting.

To arrive in time, Kuroda needed to depart Narita Airport outside Tokyo around 4 p.m. Thursday. His question time in the budget committee was scheduled for 2:30 to 3 p.m.

"Common sense said that it was going to be very hard for him to make it to the G-20 meeting," a BOJ source relates. "But the governor wouldn't give up trying because he felt Japan's finance and central bank chiefs mustn't both be absent."

When he had done his parliamentary duty, Kuroda had less than an hour until his flight was scheduled to depart. A taxi ride from the National Diet Building to Narita takes about 59 minutes, a simulation by cab company Nihon Kotsu shows. Add in check-in time, and it was looking touch-and-go.

Kuroda's persistence paid off. With help from the ground crew, he boarded the Washington-bound plane in the nick of time.

At the G-20 meeting, he explained the rationale for the BOJ's move to become the first central bank to target long-term interest rates. Other participants expressed concern about the side effects of low interest rates amid prolonged monetary easing on a global scale.

As the global economy becomes ever more interconnected, such meetings matter. Kuroda was there to sense the mood firsthand and ensure the BOJ's position got across -- and not without a touch of pride for having rushed to be part of the process.

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