Yen’s slide toward 160 level could trigger action, says senior ruling party official

By Thomson Reuters Apr 24, 2024 | 2:27 AM

By Kentaro Sugiyama and Makiko Yamazaki

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s ruling party is not yet in active discussion on what yen levels would be deemed worth intervening in the market, though the currency’s slide towards 160 to the dollar could prod policymakers to act, party executive, Takao Ochi, told Reuters.

“There is no broad consensus right now, but if the yen slides further toward 160 or 170 to the dollar, that may be deemed excessive and could prompt policymakers to consider some action,” Ochi said in an interview on Tuesday.

Right now, however, there has been little active discussion on what yen levels would be deemed appropriate for such action, said Ochi, the secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) research commission on the finance and banking systems.

“General thinking within the LDP appears that rather than rushing to reverse the yen’s declines, we would need to evaluate the impact of the weakness carefully,” he said.

The currency market has recently been driven largely by the wide interest-rate differential between Japan and the United States and a weak yen has both merits and demerits for the economy, Ochi added.

A broad dollar rally driven by receding market expectations of a near-term U.S. interest rate cut has pushed the yen to a 34-year low near 155 yen, heightening the chance of currency intervention by Japanese authorities.

On Tuesday, Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki gave his strongest warning yet on the chance of intervention, saying last week’s meeting with his U.S. and South Korean counterparts laid the groundwork for Tokyo to act against excessive yen moves.

The yen has declined about 9% versus the dollar this year.

Decisions to intervene in the foreign exchange market are highly political in Japan. Tokyo last intervened in 2022 to prop up the yen when public anger over the weak currency and a subsequent rise in the cost of living put pressure on the administration to respond.

(Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki and Kentaro Sugiyama; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)