[TOKYO] Bank of Japan officials were left squirming on Tuesday by questions in parliament about discrepancies in the resume of Makoto Sakurai, the central bank's newest policy board member.
BOJ deputy governor Hiroshi Nakaso told lawmakers the discrepancies do not amount to falsification, but the incident leaves the central bank and the government open to criticism that they overstated Mr Sakurai's credentials.
Mr Sakurai, who shares Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's views on the need to reflate the economy and prevent a return to deflation, joined the BOJ last month after his nomination was approved in a vote in parliament in March.
His appointment was seen as moving the board more in favour of governor Haruhiko Kuroda's radical quantitative easing, but his nomination by the government surprised economists because he was unknown in the financial community.
Mr Sakurai, in response to a lawmaker's questions, said he got the credits for a doctorate in economics at the prestigious Tokyo University but dropped out and was not granted a PhD.
In contrast, Sakurai's profile on the BOJ's web site says he completed the PhD programme in 1976. "I do not have a PhD, but this is the phrasing the BOJ uses to describe my academic background," Mr Sakurai said. "I realise there is some misunderstanding. I want to correct what needs to be corrected."
Deputy governor Nakaso told lawmakers it used to be a custom in Japan to say you completed a PhD programme if you studied for the degree but did not submit a dissertation and the BOJ was simply following this custom.
Kikuo Iwata, the BOJ's second deputy governor, also told lawmakers he studied for a PhD at Tokyo University but never got the degree, even though his profile says he completed the programme in 1973.
Once out of the PhD programme, Mr Sakurai held positions at several government-related and private-sector think tanks, but in response to one lawmaker's questions Sakurai said there were some discrepancies in the dates of the positions on his resume.
The opposition lawmaker's questions were prompted by a story in a tabloid magazine on Monday that Tokyo University had no record of Mr Sakurai's PhD dissertation.