Former Bank of Japan governor Masaru Hayami, who introduced the country's zero interest-rate policy, has died at age 84, news reports said on Sunday.
Hayami served as head of the BoJ between March 1998 and 2003, when Japan was struggling to fight recession in the wake of the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s.
Hayami introduced the zero interest rate for the first time among developed countries in February 1999, as Japan's financial crisis deepened while a number of Japanese financial institutions collapsed.
Despite opposition from some economists at home and abroad as well as from members of the central bank policy board, he ended the zero rate in August 2000.
But as Japan's deflation intensified, he was forced to reintroduce the zero rate along with the unorthodox policy of quantitative easing, or pouring massive funds into markets, in March 2001.
Under Hayami's leadership, the BoJ implemented purchases of shares held by commercial banks -- another bold step for a national central bank. Hayami, born in the western city of Kobe, joined the BoJ in 1947.