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Banking

Bank of Japan: Will Hayami stop the banks being roasted?

A corruption scandal at the Bank of Japan (BoJ) has provided an excuse to install a new team, and to pave the way for a more truly independent central bank. But will it all work out? The institution's image has suffered from the realization that commercial banks have been lavishing entertainment on all-powerful and seemingly unaccountable officials as a way of resolving business issues. An even bigger question mark hangs over the bank's independence from political interference in its interest-rate policy.

Until his appointment March 20 to the vice-governorship of the Bank of Japan, Sakuya Fujiwara was most widely known for having helped an ageing Japanese movie star write her autobiography. The work later became a long-running musical.

"I really don't know very much about derivatives," said the bearded, bespectacled Fujiwara during a press conference at the BoJ on the day he was appointed. "My appointment has probably contributed greatly to the lowering of the average financial IQ of this institution."

To be sure, Fujiwara has done more than just ghostwriting. A former Washington correspondent of Jiji, a financial news agency, Fujiwara spent five years covering the BoJ. One of his many books chronicles events during the reigns of five successive BoJ governors.

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