How to become the next ADB president

Qualifying to become the next ADB president is easy but getting elected is not as simple

SUCCESSOR. Who will replace and what is the process in choosing the successor of outgoing Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Haruhiko Kuroda? Photo by AFP

MANILA, Philippines – The recent nomination of Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Haruhiko Kuroda to Bank of Japan by Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has created a top-level vacancy in the Manila-based multilateral development bank. 

A few days after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s nomination, Kuroda submitted his resignation from the ADB on February 28. This starts the 6- to 8-week timeframe for choosing the next president of the ADB. 

Unlike the process for choosing the next pope, becoming ADB President is less complicated. There’s only one criteria to meet: must be an Asian national. There are no gender, age, nationality, and health restrictions in becoming one of the most influential persons globally by virtue of being at the helm of a multilateral agency. 

“Under ADB’s Charter, the President must be a national of a regional member country,” ADB’s Ann Quon said in an email to Rappler on Wednesday, March 6. 

The ADB has two kinds of members: regional members and non-regional members. There are a total of 67 member countries and 19 of those are non-regional members or those countries not in the Asia and the Pacific.  

Vote weights

If qualifying for the position is simple, choosing an ADB President is complicated. 

Starting Thursday, March 7, the ADB Board of Directors sent email nominations by the ADB Board of Governors, composed of the finance ministers of ADB member countries. The nomination period will close on March 24, at the end of business day, Manila time. 

The Government of Japan has already named Takehiko Nakao as its nominee. Nakao is currently Japan’s Vice Minister for Finance for International Affairs.

The election will start on March 25, and will end at close of business day of April 24, Manila Time. The results will be announced after the votes are recorded by the Board of Directors. 

The ADB Board of Directors are the set of 12 individuals that approve or reject country loan applications, among other tasks. Eight of the 12 people are elected by member countries from within the Asia Pacific region, while 4 others are elected by member countries from outside the region. The ADB President chairs the Board of Directors. 

When the nomination period has closed, the ADB Board of Governors will vote. Their votes will be counted according to certain weights. These weights are based on the subscribed capital of each member country of the bank. 

The 48 regional member countries’ voting power is at 65.07%, while the 19 non-regional members have 34.93% of the whole. This is because the subscribed capital of regional member countries accounts for 63.43% while non-regional members have 36.57% of the total.

Currently, Japan and United States have the largest vote weights among all 67 member countries. Any common vote they make will automatically account for close to 26% of the total.

These are the members that have high vote weights:

  • Japan – 12.82%
  • China – 5.47%
  • India – 5.38%
  • Australia – 4.94%
  • Indonesia – 4.44%
  • South Korea – 4.34%

Among non-regional members, those who also have high vote weights are:

  • United States – 12.82%
  • Canada – 4.5%
  • Germany – 3.77%
  • France – 2.17%
  • United Kingdom – 1.94%
  • Italy – 1.75%

“The total voting power of each member consists of the sum of its basic votes and proportional votes. The basic votes of each member consist of such number of votes as results from the equal distribution among all members of 20% of the aggregate sum of the basic votes and proportional votes of all members. The number of proportional votes of each member is equal to the number of shares of the capital stock of ADB held by that member,” ADB documents explained.

Blast from the past

Since it was established in 1966, the ADB has had 8 Presidents, including outgoing President Kuroda. The ADB Charter provides that each President has a term of 5 years and can be re-elected. 

Among the 8 presidents, Masao Fujioka had the longest term — a total of 8 years from November 1981 to November 1989. The ones with the shortest terms were Shiro Inoue who served November 1972 to November 1976, and Kimimasa Tarumizu, November 1989 to November 1993.

This means that President Kuroda is already one of those with the longest terms as President. Kuroda was first elected in November 2004 and joined ADB in February 2005. He was elected for a full 5-year term in November 2006 and re-elected again in November 2011. 

Of the 8 past presidents, only 3 are living — Kuroda, Fujioka, and Taroichi Yoshida who served as President from November 1976 to November 1981. –

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