MARIKO KODAKI, Nikkei staff writer
TOKYO — Asian Development Bank President Takehiko Nakao is expected to announce his resignation soon, potentially sparking a clash between Tokyo and Beijing over the selection of his successor.
The next president likely will take the post around the start of 2020. Candidates need to win at least half the votes from the bank’s members in an election. Japan, the biggest investor in the bank along with the U.S., has controlled the presidency since the ADB’s founding in 1966.
Tokyo plans to nominate special cabinet adviser Masatsugu Asakawa, who served as Japan’s vice minister of finance for international affairs for a record four years until July.
But “China could nominate a rival candidate,” a Japanese Finance Ministry official said.
China is the third-largest investor in the ADB, as well as one of its key borrowers. The country ranked fourth in terms of new borrowing in 2018.
Beijing also launched the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in December 2015 to help advance its Belt and Road infrastructure-building initiative, placing a Chinese national at the helm.
Nakao is serving his second term as ADB president, taking the post in April 2013 and winning a five-year term in 2016. He merged the bank’s Asian Development Fund with its regular balance sheet in 2017, increasing total lending. He also bolstered financing for climate initiatives and announced plans to expand the bank’s operations into fields such as education and health care under the Strategy 2030.