Japan finance minister says U.S. currency report won't restrict forex policy

FILE PHOTO: Taro Aso, Japan's Deputy Prime Minister, speaks at the official opening of Japan House in London, Britain, September 13, 2018. Tim P. Whitby/Pool via REUTERS

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Friday that a U.S. government report on currencies did not suggest Tokyo’s foreign-exchange policy was inappropriate and that Washington’s assessment would not restrict Japan’s currency management.

Speaking to reporters after a cabinet meeting, Aso also said he expected Japan-U.S. trade talks to start around mid-January.

In its semiannual currency report issued on Wednesday, the U.S. Treasury Department said it was keeping Japan, along with China, India, Germany, South Korea and Switzerland, on a monitoring list for extra scrutiny on currency policy.

It refrained from naming China or any other trading partner as a currency manipulator.

“I don’t think the United States considers Japan’s currency policy as inappropriate. It doesn’t mean to take some kind of action. Therefore, it won’t limit Japan’s currency policy,” Aso said.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office told Congress on Tuesday it would open trade talks with Japan as Tokyo and Washington last month agreed to a discussion framework that, for now, avoid further tariffs on cars.

Tokyo pushed back on a straight bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that Washington had sought, fearing it could put Japan under pressure to open politically sensitive sectors such as agriculture.

Asked whether he would hold the third round of separate U.S.-Japan economic dialogue with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who is expected to visit Japan later this year, Aso said such a meeting was unlikely to take place.

“I don’t think the United States wants to hold the third round of talks,” Aso said. He noted that under U.S. law, Washington cannot start talks with trade partners until three months after notifying Congress.

Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Chris Gallagher and Sam Holmes