A former Finance Ministry official famed for his expertise in international finance is being pitched by the government to succeed Takehiko Nakao as president of the Asian Development Bank.

With Nakao expected to announce his retirement shortly, officials said Masatsugu Asakawa would be the perfect choice for the post.

Asakawa retired from the ministry in July.

The primary task facing the new ADB chief will be retaining the bank’s influence in the Asia-Pacific region as the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is fast rising as its rival.

The ADB was established in 1966 under a Japanese initiative to provide low-interest loans to countries in the Asia-Pacific region to address poverty and promote economic development.

The Manila-based bank now has a membership of 68 countries and regions. Japan and the United States are its two largest contributors.

It is the only international financial institution that Japan leads. All nine ADB presidents have been Japanese.

Asakawa, 61, joined the ministry in 1981. In the four years leading up to his retirement, he served as vice minister of finance for international affairs, making him the second highest ranked ministry bureaucrat.

He won high international regard for compiling measures to fight tax dodging by multinational corporations while he chaired the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Committee on Fiscal Affairs.

The president of the ADB is elected through voting.

The government is expected to start a campaign in support of Asakawa by notifying Japan’s choice to member countries and regions.

If Asakawa is elected, he will assume the ADB presidency early next year at the earliest.

China is pushing the AIIB, which was established in 2015, to provide financial assistance to other Asian countries under the so-called One Belt, One Road, a vision of forming a broad economic zone connecting Asia and Europe.

But concerns have been expressed about countries receiving loans from the AIIB falling into a trap where they suffer from a heavy debt load.

The new president of the ADB is expected to steer the bank to help develop the regional economy while collaborating and competing with the AIIB.

Nakao, 63, assumed the ADB presidency in 2013 after his predecessor, Haruhiko Kuroda, stepped down to become the governor of the Bank of Japan.

The term of the ADB president is five years and reappointment is possible.