Mon, Apr 02, 2012 - Page 10 News List

Azumi says Japan backs Kim to head World Bank


Japanese Finance Minister Jun Azumi said he supported US nominee Jim Yong Kim’s bid to lead the World Bank.

Kim’s work on HIV/AIDS in the WHO shows the 52-year-old physician has expertise on developing nation issues, Azumi said yesterday.

“He is a highly competent individual who spearheaded efforts and contributed to AIDS issues,” Azumi told reporters yesterday in Tokyo after meeting Kim. “We judge he’s an appropriate candidate for the World Bank and support his bid.”

Kim was head of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School and also served as director of the WHO’s HIV/AIDS department. In 1987, he co-founded Partners in Health, a nonprofit organization that has opened clinics in countries including Haiti and Peru.

Before meeting Azumi, Kim also met with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan (王祈山) in Shaoxing, China, as part of a global tour to solicit “priorities and ideas” for the bank’s future, according to a statement on Saturday from the US Department of the Treasury.

The World Bank plans to pick its new president on April 16 after interviewing the three candidates for the post the previous week, according to three officials on the lender’s board.

Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is scheduled to meet the 25-person board on April 9, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the dates have not been made public. Former Colombian finance minister Jose Antonio Ocampo is to be interviewed on April 10, followed by Kim on April 11, the officials said.

The candidacies of Ocampo and Okonjo-Iweala are a challenge to US control of the job under an informal agreement that also gives the leadership of the IMF to a European. The US is the bank’s largest shareholder, and an American has always held the top job.

Ocampo, in a phone interview last week, said he and Okonjo-Iweala have a chance to win if the selection “respects the rules of being an open, transparent process based on merit.”

“Maybe it will not change this time, but in that case we’re putting up the fight so that that system will be changed forever,” Ocampo said.

The new president will succeed World Bank President Robert Zoellick, whose term ends on June 30. The new president will take over an institution that lent US$57 billion last year, as private investors step up their funding for development projects, turning the World Bank into more of a technical adviser.

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