MANILA — Asian Development Bank President Takehiko Nakao announced his resignation plans Tuesday, midway through his second term in office.
Nakao’s resignation follows what has been a trend in the institution of bank presidents — not finishing their terms. Nakao joined the bank in 2013, after his predecessor, Haruhiko Kuroda, resigned to take over the post of governor of the Bank of Japan.
The announcement came as a surprise to some within and outside the bank, although some were already anticipating it, according to a bank source who requested to remain anonymous.
“Although my term remains as I was reelected on November 24, 2016 for the 5-years term, I feel this is a good time to ask someone with fresh ideas and strong commitment to development to succeed me. I announce my resignation now so that the institution can have a smooth transition of presidential administrations,” Nakao said in a statement. He leaves on Jan. 16, 2020.
Prior to the announcement, there were already rumors of Nakao’s resignation and possible replacement: Masatsugu Asakawa, Japan’s former vice finance minister for international affairs.
Nakao said the election for the new president will be done in an open, transparent, and merit-based procedure. But it is widely known that Japan has maintained the bank’s presidency since its founding in 1966. The bank has also never had a woman at the helm.
Nakao has left some significant but mixed legacies at the bank. Under his leadership, the bank saw the merger of its two financing windows — the Asian Development Fund and the Ordinary Capital Resources — to create a bigger lending capital, as well as the launch of a new procurement framework. He also oversaw the launch of the bank’s new Strategy 2030 in July 2018, in which the bank renewed commitments to the social sectors and increase its climate financing target to $80 billion from 2019 to 2030.
But it was also under his leadership that cuts were introduced to the pension and benefits package of international staff and former employees, which drew bitter sentiments from staff.