For Japan, weak yen a concern even if moves slow-finance minister

  • Finance minister says there are pros, cons of weak yen
  • With inflation a policy focus, weak yen becomes a problem
  • Suzuki repeats threat of intervention to combat speculative move

TOKYO, Nov 2 (Reuters) – Japan is concerned not just about excessive yen falls but also a slow depreciation in the Japanese currency as it boosts living costs through higher import bills, Finance Minster Shunichi Suzuki said on Wednesday.

While authorities have justified recent yen-buying intervention as aimed at smoothing volatile moves, Suzuki’s comments highlight Tokyo’s concern over the broader negative impact of the yen’s downtrend on the fragile economy.

Speaking in parliament, Suzuki said there were pros and cons to a weak yen with the boost to exports among the merits.

But with the government’s policy concern focused on addressing the pain that rising prices were inflicting on households and companies, a weak yen was problematic, he said.

“What we should bear in mind is surging import prices caused by a weak yen (are) raising inflation,” Suzuki said. “In that sense, stable or gradual yen weakening is a great source of concern.”

Japan spent a record $43 billion supporting the yen last month after it slumped to a 32-year low. In September, it conducted its first yen-buying intervention since 1998.

Suzuki said Tokyo was ready to respond to excessive yen falls driven by speculative trading, repeating his threat to step into the market upon sharp currency moves.

“I can’t comment as doing so would be…

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