MANILA — Takeshi Watanabe, the first president of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), has died in his native Japan. He was 104.

The Manila-based ADB said Friday that Watanabe, who died Monday, was considered to be the "father" of the development agency that aims to reduce poverty in the Asia-Pacific region.

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He initiated many of its policies and was unanimously elected its first president at ADB's inaugural meeting in Tokyo in 1966. He served for six years until 1972.

Under Watanabe's leadership, the ADB emerged as a key source of lending and assistance in the region.

"He combined idealism with practicality and can be credited with both helping to create ADB's identity, as well as putting it on a sound financial footing," said ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda.

The ADB is owned and financed by 67 member countries, of which 48 are from the region and 19 are from other parts of the globe. Last year, it approved a total of $16.1 billion in financing operations through loans, grants, guarantees and other projects. (AP)