Japan's Abe Ready to Respond to `Excessive' Forex Volatility

Kuroda Warns Yen Risks Recovery
  • Premier may make forex an issue at Japan G-7 summit this month
  • `Necessary to watch these movements,' Abe says in London

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday he was ready to respond to excessive currency moves if needed, adding that he may raise the issue of foreign exchange volatility at a meeting of Group of Seven leaders in Japan later this month.

With the yen having strengthened about 12 percent this year against the dollar, Abe told reporters in London that "abrupt" change is undesirable. "The exchange rate must be stabilized," he said, adding that Japan would "carefully watch these movements and as necessary we would need to respond."

The yen’s appreciation has led to speculation that the government may consider foreign exchange intervention to support exporters that may suffer from a rise in the Japanese currency. The yen weakened about 0.5 percent to 107. 33 as of 3:48 p.m. London time after Abe began a press conference in the U.K. capital following a meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron.

Abe’s comments come three days after Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda warned that the yen’s biggest rally since the premier came to power in 2012 risked harming the nation’s economic recovery. Kuroda, speaking in Frankfurt on Monday, said that BOJ policy makers won’t hesitate to expand Japan’s unprecedented monetary stimulus to achieve their 2 percent inflation target. The central bank held pat at a meeting last week, causing the Japanese currency to strengthen rapidly amid expectations of easing.

A weaker currency has been a linchpin of Abe’s program to stoke growth and exit deflation. Japan’s economy is at risk of sliding into its second recession in two years after contracting in the final three months of 2015, while inflation remains far from the BOJ’s target. One gauge showed consumer prices retreated at an annual 0.3 percent pace in March, the biggest decline since April 2013, the month that Kuroda initiated his stimulus program.

U.S. Watch List

"There is a risk of the global economy plummeting into a crisis beyond the normal economic cycles," Abe said. "Any drastic fluctuation in exchange rates will have a major impact on trade-related Japanese companies which is not desirable. In the markets there are speculative movements."

Last week, the U.S. Treasury Department cited Japan on a currency watch list, saying its foreign-exchange practices bear close monitoring to gauge whether they provide an unfair trade advantage over America.

In response to a question on this issue, Abe said: "The Japan-U.S. relationship is in a surplus. It is being indicated within that framework. It is not that Japan is making a lasting or permanent influence or impact on the exchange rate situation"

Abe, Kuroda and other Japanese policy makers have persistently denied that Japan’s monetary policy is aimed at weakening the yen.

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