Japanese Government Officials Disagree Over Pension Fund Changes

Japan

2014 was a year of change for Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF), and 2015 will bring more of the same.

Aside from appointing a chief investment officer, the pension fund is overhauling its investment strategy and hiring new managers.

But Japan’s welfare minister, Yasuhisa Shiozaki, along with other government officials, might not be on the same page as the GPIF.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Japan’s welfare minister has frequently disagreed with officials in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ’s government over the nation’s $1.1 trillion Government Pension Investment Fund, according to people familiar with the matter, adding uncertainty to efforts to remake the fund.

[…]

Fights over the process—including the recent hiring of a London-based private-equity executive as chief investment officer—have broken out between Mr. Shiozaki’s camp and other officials at his Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, as well as aides to Mr. Abe, according to those involved.

[…]

So far, the disagreements haven’t significantly derailed Mr. Abe’s plans. But in an interview Wednesday, Mr. Shiozaki laid out a cautious investment strategy and declined to praise the chief investment officer, Hiromichi Mizuno.

Mr. Mizuno’s appointment “was decided by the GPIF’s president, so I don’t think it’s the kind of thing I should comment a lot about,” said Mr. Shiozaki.

He went on, “Mr. Mizuno must do his best to fulfill the necessary condition of being able to invest in a safe and efficient manner. That is what we expect. If he can’t do that—if it does not come out in favor of pensioners—then that’s a problem.”

The GPIF manages $1.1 trillion in assets and is the world’s largest pension fund.

 

Photo by Ville Miettinen via FLickr CC License

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