Japan’s Biggest Bank Names Hanzawa as Lending Unit Chief

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Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. promoted Junichi Hanzawa to chief of its main lending unit, as Japan’s largest bank faces mounting pressure on profitability.

Hanzawa, 55, will replace Kanetsugu Mike as president of MUFG Bank Ltd. on April 1, it said in a statement on Thursday. Mike, 64, will become chairman of the holding company, succeeding Nobuyuki Hirano, it said.

Currently chief compliance officer, Hanzawa inherits the task of digitizing operations, curtailing bad-loan costs after the pandemic, and coping with persistently low interest rates. The shuffle comes as Chief Executive Officer Hironori Kamezawa, 59, crafts a long-term strategy to be announced early in the fiscal year starting April.

Hanzawa, who is also a managing executive officer, has long been seen as a candidate for the top job. His past titles include head of the corporate planning office, which serves as chief of staff for the CEO. He joined MUFG’s predecessor Mitsubishi Bank in 1988 after graduating from the University of Tokyo.

Read more about the prospects for Japan’s biggest banks

MUFG has been suffering from low profitability at its domestic retail business, where keeping a costly branch network is becoming more difficult to justify. The lender is now on a drive to expand digital services and reach younger customers who are more inclined to do banking on their phones.

More immediately, Hanzawa faces the fallout from the coronavirus-hit economy. In November, MUFG raised its annual estimate for bad loan costs to 500 billion yen ($4.8 billion), citing the need to make more provisions for possible defaults. Massive government and central bank stimulus have helped to prop up businesses so far, but it remains uncertain how long the aid can sustain weak companies.

Hirano, 69, will remain a board member of MUFG, the company said.

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