Parliament votes down Japanese central bank governor nominee

TOKYO, March 12, 2008 (AFP) – Japanese opposition lawmakers Wednesday voted down Bank of Japan deputy Toshiro Muto as the next central bank chief, defying the government which refused to look for a new candidate. Relations between the two main parties have been severely strained by a string of disputes culminating in the ruling coalition ramming a state budget through the lower house last month. The political standoff makes it increasingly likely that the central bank of the world’s second-largest economy will be run by a caretaker governor after outgoing chief Toshihiko Fukui steps down on March 19.

“For now we aren’t thinking of an alternative proposal to the original nomination,” Finance Minister Fukushiro Nukaga told reporters.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura urged the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) to reconsider its resistance to Muto, a former heavyweight at the finance ministry.

“I have to say that the criticism of him is utterly inappropriate. We don’t understand their disagreement with his nomination,” said Machimura, the top spokesman for the government.

The opposition-controlled upper house voted 129 to 106 to reject Muto’s nomination, official results sho