Questions have been raised over new Bank of Japan Board member Makoto Sakurai’s credentials this week by a weekly magazine Shukan Post, saying that there was no record of him submitting a
thesis or graduating with a PhD.
The central bank’s website describes Sakurai, 69, as having “completed a PhD programme in Economics.” While some readers could take this to mean he is a Doctor of Philosophy and can use the title, the BOJ’s public relations department said the description means that Sakurai completed coarse work, but didn’t receive a doctorate. The bank also
describes Deputy Governor Kikuo Iwata the same way on its
Sakurai’s office at the central bank wasn’t immediately able to comment, nor was the University of Tokyo, where he did the coursework. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said he was aware of the report and that he thinks the BOJ will deal with the issue.
However, the English version of a 1991 book for which Sakurai wrote a chapter described him as having “received a PhD in economics.”
The Japanese version of the book used the same wording as the BOJ’s website, according to the publisher, Japan Center for International Exchange.
“There is a distinction between students who earn a PhD degree and ones who just finish a PhD course. That isn’t well known generally, and it’s hard to make the distinction,” said Koya Miyamae, a senior economist at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. in Tokyo.
“I don’t think we can say that the BOJ is being purposely misleading in its personnel records,” pointed out Miyamae.
Interestingly, Kazuhiko Ogata, the chief Japan economist at the Credit Agricole in Tokyo, said he was surprised in a big way that the description had become an issue.
“I don’t think this is going to be an issue for Sakurai,” said Ogata.
“That means no effect on the credibility of the BOJ,” stated Ogata.
The BOJ is headquartered in Nihonbashi, Chuo, Tokyo, on the site of a former gold mint (the Kinza) and, not coincidentally, near the famous Ginza district, whose name means silver mint. The Neo-baroque Bank of Japan building in Tokyo was designed by Tatsuno Kingo in 1896.
The Osaka branch in Nakanoshima is sometimes considered as the structure which
effectively symbolises the bank as an institution.