TOKYO: Japanese policymakers kept up their warnings against investors selling off the Japanese currency as the dollar rose to a fresh 24-year high against the yen on Wednesday (Oct 12), raising speculation about a second round of intervention.
The US currency rose to 146.35 yen, a level not seen since August 1998 during the Asian financial crisis, moving above levels that triggered intervention by Japanese authorities last month to stem excessive yen weakening.
The yen was trading around 146.30 to the dollar around midday on Wednesday as traders braced for US inflation data and its implications on future US rate hikes.
"We are closely watching foreign exchange moves with a high sense of urgency, and ready to take appropriate steps on excess moves," Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.
The comment came after Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki was quoted by Jiji Press as saying there was no change in the country's stance at all and that it would take necessary steps in the foreign exchange market if necessary.
"What was important was the speed of forex moves, not any levels," Jiji quoted Suzuki saying as he was travelling to Washington to attend a gathering of the financial leaders from the Group of 20 major economies.
Neither Matsuno nor Suzuki used stronger expressions in describing yen moves on Wednesday such as "excessive," "one-sided" or "speculative," suggesting that currency intervention may not be imminent.
Last month, Japanese authorities sold dollars and bought yen in a market intervention for the first time in 24 years, spending 2.8 trillion yen (US$19.2 billion) to slow a rapid slide in the yen that was considered a threat to the economy.
Market players were closely watching how Suzuki might explain Japan's stance on intervention and whether the country would gain backing from the US and other countries at the Group of 20 meeting in Washington this week.
While Japanese officials have said they do not necessarily need US consent for action in the currency markets, they repeatedly stress the importance of seeking US understanding, which is seen as lending them legitimacy.
Investors see solo action by Japan being far less effective than concerted intervention.