Experts: Japan Pension Should Be Run By Board, Not President


Currently, Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) – the largest pension fund in the world – is managed by a President.

The sole trustee system is rare; it is used by a few pension funds in the United States, but more typically a board of trustees is utilized to make investment policy and governance decisions.

Now, experts are calling on the GPIF to switch to a board of trustees model.

From the Wall Street Journal:

[The] Government Pension Investment Fund should be managed by a board of directors rather than a president, as is currently the case, a panel of outside experts has concluded.


“If the coach plays with the players in a sports game, if there are mistakes in the game, it’s hard for the coach to make the tough calls he should be making as coach,” said Shuya Nomura, a Chuo University professor who was appointed last month as an adviser to the welfare minister on GPIF issues, referring to how the board of directors should be structured.

The meeting ran 30 minutes over the scheduled time as members argued over whether you could compare the GPIF to the Bank of Japan 8301.TO -0.21% or a public company. They also couldn’t reach consensus about how a nomination panel to appoint fund officials should be structured.

Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the group has differed on some issues. Welfare Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki, an Abe appointee and a staunch advocate of an aggressive overhaul of the fund’s management, pushed hard for the group to be formed, and some of its members have expressed views similar to his. But bureaucrats at the health ministry, which oversees the GPIF, argued that the group should include more cautious voices.

The group will present its ideas to the health ministry panel for further discussion, and eventually the ministry will draft a law to submit to parliament.

The GPIF manages $1.1 trillion in assets.


Photo by Ville Miettinen via Flickr CC License