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The job that nobody wants


Junichiro Koizumi

There are only six weeks left until Masaru Hayami, Japan's central bank governor, retires. And Japan's prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, seems no closer to naming Hayami's successor. But with time running out, Koizumi won't be able to delay his decision for much longer.

Hayami's heir was supposed to have been named before or on January 20. This announcement was, however, pushed back to some unspecified date this month. Many observers now believe that it is unlikely this will be before the last week of February.

On the surface, Koizumi's choice looks relatively easy. The list is after all short, with only Toshihiko Fukui and Noboyuki Nakahara regularly bandied around as potential candidates. The lack of aspirants, however, is perhaps testament to the fact that few people actually want to do the job.

Even the bookies' favourite, Fukui, officially says that he doesn't want it. "But we don't believe him," says one economist. "He only says this because it's frowned upon to openly display your intentions and ambition." Nakahara, on the other hand, has made no such statement.

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