BOJ Board Member Sakurai’s Credentials Questioned by Shukan Post

Weekly magazine Shukan Post raised questions about new Bank of Japan Board member Makoto Sakurai’s credentials this week, saying that there was no record of him submitting a thesis or graduating with a Ph.D.

The central bank’s website describes Sakurai, 69, as having “completed a Ph.D. Program 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 course work, but didn’t receive a doctorate. The bank also describes Deputy Governor Kikuo Iwata the same way on its website.

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.

The English version of a 1991 book for which Sakurai wrote a chapter described him as having “received a Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. degree and ones who just finish a Ph.D. 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.”

Kazuhiko Ogata, chief Japan economist at Credit Agricole in Tokyo, said he was surprised 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.”

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