TOKYO, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi
Suzuki warned on Thursday against any sharp currency moves,
saying he was closely watching the foreign exchange market as
the yen hovered near 18-month lows against the dollar.
The new finance minister made the comment when asked about
the yen's recent weakening during an interview with a small
number of news outlets. The yen has fallen about 8% against the
dollar since the start of this year.
Japanese policymakers tend to warn against sharp yen rises,
which could hurt the export-reliant economy. But Suzuki's
comments suggest authorities are also concerned about a rapid
yen weakening, which could drive up import costs for the
"Stability in currencies is important for the Japanese
economy. We will closely watch currency market moves," said
"I'll refrain from commenting on currency levels as we
shouldn't affect the market," he added.
Suzuki assumed his post on Monday, taking over from his
predecessor and brother-in-law Taro Aso, under the newly formed
cabinet of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
The dollar has been firming amid jitters that surging energy
prices could spur inflation and interest rate hikes. A wide
interest rate differential between Japan and the United States
has also helped support the dollar against the yen.
The yen stood at 111.30 versus the dollar, remaining within
sight of the 18-month trough of 112.08 seen last Thursday.
When asked about a planned stimulus package, Suzuki declined
to comment on its size and content, saying that he will need to
discuss the matter with the ruling coalition.
The minister reiterated a government goal of achieving a
primary budget surplus by the fiscal year ending in March 2026,
even though its heavy stimulus spending appeared to make it an
even more elusive target.
Suzuki vowed to compile a "high quality budget" for the next
fiscal year, underscoring the need for "wise spending and
(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto, Editing by Chang-Ran Kim, Ana
Nicolaci da Costa and Kim Coghill)