Japan’s Top FX Diplomat Says Ready to Deal with Yen around the Clock

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
Japanese Yen and U.S. dollar banknotes are seen in this illustration taken March 10, 2023.

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s top currency diplomat Masato Kanda said on Tuesday authorities were ready to deal with foreign exchange matters around the clock but declined to comment on whether the finance ministry had intervened to prop up the yen a day earlier.

“We are ready 24 hours, so whether it’s London, New York or Wellington, it doesn’t make a difference,” the vice finance minister for international affairs told reporters.

His comments come a day after Japan’s currency surged as much as five yen against the dollar in what traders cited as intervention. Japan’s markets were closed Monday for a public holiday.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters later on Tuesday the government had said it would not comment on foreign exchange moves and interventions, when asked whether authorities intervened in the currency market on Monday.

The dollar was last at 156.70 in Asia on Tuesday.

The Wall Street Journal reported Japanese financial authorities had intervened in the market, citing people familiar with the matter.

Kanda on Monday declined to comment when asked about intervention but said current developments in the currency market were “speculative, rapid and abnormal” and could not be overlooked.

Asked again on Tuesday about intervention, Kanda also declined comment but said excessive foreign exchange moves triggered by speculators would negatively impact the daily lives of people.

“Higher prices of import goods are said to be affecting most vulnerable people and could be a drag on Japan’s momentum to raise actual wages,” he said.

“The government would need to respond to such moves,” Kanda said. “We would act in accordance with rules set under international frameworks” such as the Group of Seven advanced countries and International Monetary Fund, he added.

The Group of Seven finance leaders this month agreed to a Japanese proposal to reaffirm their commitment that excessive volatility and disorderly moves in the currency market were undesirable.

In the first trilateral finance dialog since last year’s three-way leaders summit at Camp David, the U.S., Japan and South Korea agreed to consult on currency markets, acknowledging Tokyo’s and Seoul’s respective concerns about their slumping currencies.

The meetings were broadly seen as giving Tokyo approval to step into the FX market to stop precipitous declines in its currency.