TOKYO: Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso described the yen's recent rise as "rapid" on Friday, signalling concern that a strong currency could add further pain to an export-led economy already in recession due to the coronavirus.
The yen's recent appreciation comes just as the world's third-largest economy has been bottoming out from its deepest postwar slump, with authorities juggling a restart of economic activity with efforts to prevent a second wave of Covid-19 infections. The currency had been stable at around 107 yen to the dollar under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet, Aso told reporters after a cabinet meeting.
"In that sense, the yen has swung upward rapidly by about 3 yen recently. Stability is important, so I'm closely monitoring it with a sense of urgency." The dollar hit a 4 1/2-month low of 104.52 yen on Friday, having lost 3.1% this month, as investors worried that a recovery in the US economy could be stymied by a second wave of coronavirus.
A Japanese government panel acknowledged on Thursday that the economy peaked in October 2018 and fell into recession, suggesting it was struggling long before its more recent coronavirus slump.