Japan's top FX diplomat signals readiness to intervene as yen spikes

Illustrative picture shows Japanese 10,000 yen bank notes spread out at an office of World Currency Shop in Tokyo in this August 9, 2010 illustrative picture. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao/File Photo
Illustrative picture shows Japanese 10,000 yen bank notes spread out at an office of World Currency Shop in Tokyo in this August 9, 2010 illustrative picture. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao/File Photo

By Tetsushi Kajimoto

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's top currency diplomat on Wednesday signalled Tokyo's readiness to intervene in currency markets with the safe-haven yen soaring as Republican Donald Trump closes in on winning the U.S. presidential election.

"(Currency) moves are quite rough," Masatsugu Asakawa, vice finance minister for international affairs, told reporters, adding that he was watching markets with a "sense of urgency."

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"I will consult with Finance Minister (Taro Aso) on how to respond," he said. The finance minister makes the final decision on whether to intervene in the currency market.

Asakawa later told reporters he would not comment on whether Japan will step into the market.

Senior officials from the Ministry of Finance, Financial Services Agency and the Bank of Japan will meet at 3 p.m. (0600 GMT) to discuss global markets, the MOF said, as the final votes were being counted in the U.S. presidential election.

Such meetings are not unusual but are held around events that jolt financial markets.

Japan's Nikkei stock average tanked and the dollar sank more than 3 percent versus the yen on Wednesday as a fiercely contested U.S. election appeared too close to call.

Earlier on Wednesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters the government would act in financial markets if needed as it watches for any excessive volatility.

Rapid gains in the yen, which is regarded as a safe haven in times of great market volatility, have been a headache for Japanese policymakers concerned about the effect of excessive yen strength on Japan's fragile, export-reliant economy.

Japanese authorities have refrained from stepping into the currency markets since it last intervened in 2011. Many analysts say it would be difficult for Tokyo to intervene because doing so could infringe on a Group of 20 agreement to refrain from competitive currency devaluation.


(Additional reporting by Kaori Kaneko and Minami Funakoshi, writing by Leika Kihara; Editing by Chris Gallagher and Eric Meijer)

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