Japan PM says yen still overvalued, finance minister repeats warning

TOKYO Sun Mar 11, 2012 11:36pm EDT

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda (front L) and his cabinet members observe a moment of silence at the start of a parliamentary session in Tokyo on March 9, 2012, ahead of one-year anniversary of last March 11 earthquake and tsunami. REUTERS/Kyodo

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda (front L) and his cabinet members observe a moment of silence at the start of a parliamentary session in Tokyo on March 9, 2012, ahead of one-year anniversary of last March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Credit: Reuters/Kyodo

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TOKYO (Reuters) - The yen remains overvalued despite its recent steep fall from historic peaks versus the U.S. dollar, Japan's prime minister said on Monday, while the country's finance minister kept up a warning against speculative currency moves.

"Compared to record highs seen last October the yen has weakened but as a trend it is still somewhat overvalued ... The yen is valued highly in relative terms when considering fundamentals," Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said in parliament.

Finance Minister Jun Azumi added there was no change in Japan's stance of taking steps against speculative moves in currency markets, though he declined to say whether the yen is correctly valued at present.

"As I've said before, we will take firm action against excessive and speculative moves," Azumi said at the same parliamentary committee meeting. He acknowledged that a strong yen damages the global competitiveness of Japanese firms.

When urged by an opposition lawmaker to step into forex markets more frequently, Azumi said there were no constraints on intervention by Japan, though the fact it regularly discloses intervention amounts makes it different from emerging economies that heavily intervene to weaken their currencies.

The yen in early February advanced towards a record high against the dollar, but it has retreated nearly 10 percent after monetary easing from the Bank of Japan and brighter prospects for the U.S. economy.

The dollar was down 0.3 percent at 82.16 yen, hovering below a 10-1/2 month high above 82.60 yen hit on Friday.<FRX/>

(Reporting by Shinichi Saoshiro and Rie Ishiguro; Editing by Joseph Radford)

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