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Japan Currency Chief to Join Abe in U.S. Visit Amid Yen Friction

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Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister. Photographer: Haruyoshi Yamaguchi/Bloomberg

Feb. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be accompanied by his top currency official when he visits the U.S. to meet with President Barack Obama, as Japan tries to limit international friction over a weakening yen.

Vice Finance Minister Takehiko Nakao is part of a delegation arriving in Washington tomorrow, according to two officials with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be named because of government policy. Usually, a more junior official, the director-general of the international bureau, would accompany Abe on such a trip, two officials said.

Abe’s first visit to the U.S. since becoming prime minister in December comes amid international concern at the speed of the yen’s decline and Japanese officials indicating acceptable levels for the currency. U.S. Treasury Undersecretary Lael Brainard has welcomed Japan’s efforts to “reinvigorate growth,” while saying that nations need to avoid “loose talk about currencies.”

The Group of 20 avoided singling out Japan for criticism at a meeting of finance chiefs in Moscow, with nations instead pledging not to target their exchange rates for competitive purposes.

The yen weakened about 13 percent in the past three months against the dollar as Abe pledges more expansive monetary easing to spur growth. It traded at 93.48 per dollar as of 12:12 p.m. in Tokyo.

To contact the reporters on this story: Toru Fujioka in Tokyo at tfujioka1@bloomberg.net; Isabel Reynolds in Tokyo at ireynolds1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Panckhurst at ppanckhurst@bloomberg.net

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