Japan’s Azumi Seeks to Distance Himself From His Yen Intervention Comments

Japanese Finance Minister Jun Azumi distanced himself from his comments to lawmakers that indicated a level that triggered intervention in the yen in October.

“I instructed an intervention when the yen was 75.63, which could pose a threat to the Japanese economy, and finished when it was 78.20,” Azumi said in the parliament in Tokyo today. He didn’t mean that the level prompted intervention, and was referring instead to the yen’s closing price before the Oct. 31 sales, he later told reporters.

Economists and investors are focused on the possibility of more attempts to weaken Japan’s currency as the government seeks to sustain growth amid faltering export demand. Weaker exports probably caused the economy to contract in the fourth quarter, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey before a report due Feb. 13.

“He was a bit careless,” said Junko Nishioka, chief Japan economist in Tokyo at RBS Securities Japan Ltd. and a formerBank of Japan official, “It’s questionable that a finance minister who’s in charge of currencies comments about a certain level of the yen.”

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