In early May, Katsuyuki Sugita, president of Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank (DKB) and co-CEO of the newly created Mizuho Bank, returned to duty from sick leave. He made all the right noises to staff that he was fighting fit - "full of power and energy" - and ready to play a full part in the next stage of the merger of DKB, Fuji Bank and Industrial Bank of Japan (IBJ).
But insiders fear that Sugita's sickness will make the infighting for top jobs in Mizuho the more intense. A suspicious Mizuho spokesman asks how Euromoney has heard of Sugita's illness, before describing it as cystic duct narrowing. Rumours persist of an even more serious condition.
Until now, it was widely assumed that Sugita would become the head of the Mizuho holding company, leaving the president of IBJ, Masao Nishimura, to head the corporate bank and Yoshiro Yamamoto, president of Fuji Bank, to take charge of the commercial bank - a neat division of the spoils.