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Japan Picks Candidate To Head IMF

February 23, 2000

TOKYO (AP) _ Japan has formally picked Eisuke Sakakibara, an influential former Finance Ministry official, as its candidate to head the International Monetary Fund.

Sakakibara was chosen for his ``negotiating ability, vision regarding the IMF and expertise,″ the Finance Ministry said in a statement Wednesday.

The former vice finance minister for international affairs nicknamed ``Mr. Yen″ for his influence in currency markets is likely to face stiff competition in his bid to become the next IMF managing director..

The European Union was expected next week to back Caio Koch-Weser, Germany’s Deputy Finance Minister, for the post, which has traditionally been held by a European.

The IMF said Wednesday in Washington that 20 English-speaking African countries have nominated Stanley Fischer, the IMF’s first deputy managing director, for the top IMF post.

There has been speculation that U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers is pushing Fischer’s candidacy.

The former IMF managing director, Michel Camdessus, stepped down on Feb. 15 and the post has since been vacant.

Sakakibara, who left his post at the finance ministry last year, is a professor at Keio University in Tokyo.

``Japan has called on support from other countries on various levels, and we hope that there will be a lot of support for candidate Sakakibara,″ the ministry said.

Germany reacted with surprise and said it would continue to back Koch-Weser. Government spokesman Bela Anda said Germany believed the ``good tradition″ of filling the IMF top job with a European should be continued.

Koch-Weser also received backing from Switzerland on Wednesday.

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