* Dollar/yen sags for third straight day
* Focus on BOJ policy meeting on Jan. 21-22
* Some see risk of dollar/yen slipping after BOJ meeting
* But such a dip could be a chance to buy dlr/yen-analyst
* Aussie dollar falls on soft Australian jobs data
By Masayuki Kitano
SINGAPORE, Jan 17 (Reuters) - The dollar fell for a third day versus the yen on Thursday after a Japanese cabinet minister warned this week of the potential harm of excessive yen weakness, while the Australian dollar slipped on soft jobs data.
The dollar slipped 0.2 percent to 88.20 yen, pulling away from a 2-1/2 year high of 89.67 yen set on Monday.
The dollar’s pullback this week was triggered by comments by Japan’s Economics Minister Akira Amari, who cautioned on Tuesday that excessive yen weakness could have a negative impact on people’s livelihoods through rises in prices of imports.
Many market players, however, think the yen’s latest rebound is a small correction in a long-term downtrend, which started late last year on expectations that the Bank of Japan will be forced to take bolder action to reflate a sluggish economy.
The BOJ is widely expected to adopt a 2 percent inflation target at its policy meeting on Jan. 21-22. Some market players say there could be selling in dollar/yen afterwards, based on “buy the rumour, sell the fact.”
“The BOJ will probably disappoint to some degree. They’ll deliver what the market expects but no more than that,” said Gareth Berry, G10 FX strategist for UBS in Singapore.
The dollar will probably fall against the yen if that turns out to be the case, Berry said.
“But I’d see that as a (dollar) buying opportunity ahead of the changing of the guard in April,” he added.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has the power to nominate a successor to BOJ Governor Masaaki Shirakawa when his term expires in April, although the nomination needs approval by both houses of parliament.
Abe, who has piled pressure on the BOJ for bolder efforts to beat deflation, has said he would like to choose someone who can implement bold monetary policy to succeed Shirakawa.
While the dollar could run into profit-taking if the BOJ’s policy decision next week is in line with expectations, there will also probably be demand to buy the dollar on dips, said a trader for a Japanese bank in Bangkok.
“What I have been hearing is that many (dollar) buyers are waiting, starting at levels around 87.50 yen,” the trader said.
The Australian dollar fell 0.7 percent to $1.0496 as a softer-than-expected jobs report kept alive the risk of an interest rate cut in February.
Australian employment fell unexpectedly in December, nudging the jobless rate up to 5.4 percent.
The euro slipped 0.1 percent to $1.3271, struggling to regain its momentum even after a top European central banker sounded relaxed about its recent run higher.
European Central Bank policymaker Ewald Nowotny said on Wednesday the exchange rate was “not a matter of major concern”. That contrasted with comments from Eurogroup Chairman Jean-Claude Juncker that the euro was “dangerously high”.