Japan Official Tells Conclave Foreign Banks Get Fair Shake
Brevetti, Francine C., American Banker
HONG KONG -- A Bank of Japan official Tuesday disputed the characterization of his country's foreign banking environment as inhospitable.
Shijuro Ogata, the deputy governor for international relations of the Bank of Japan, made the comments at a press conference on international financial and capital markets following his address to the International Monetary Conference underway here.
Mr. Ogata's remarks drew the most attention at the conference, which included discussions among high-ranking bankers about protectionism and the economy of the United States.
The sessions of the three-day meeting are closed to the press, but they are followed by press conferences where the substance of discussions is reported to the media. At the Tuesday conference, one of the major bones of contention was whether Japan was a hospitable environment for foreign banks.
Several journalists remarked that the text of Mr. Ogata's speech resembled others of Japanese government officials that extol the pace of Japan's efforts to liberalize its markets, in this case the financial sector rather than trade in manufactured goods, but that in fact, little liberalization has bee accomplished.
In his closed session address, Mr. Ogata noted that Tokyo is host to 76 foreign bank branches, not to mention "literally countless" numbers of foreign bank representative offices, branches, and representative offices of foreign security houses.
"We have a very active foreign financial community, and opportunities for foreign banks are increasing," he said. Besides the traditional short-term markets, the just-launched bankers acceptance market, and the trust business that foreigners will be able to participate in, Japan expects to open a futures market for government bonds in the fall, and it is discussing an offshore market as well, he added. …