Japan government calls for stable FX, seeks to jawbone strong yen

FILE PHOTO: Japan Yen and U.S. Dollar notes are seen in this June 22, 2017 illustration photo. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s top government spokesman warned on Wednesday that stable currency market moves were “extremely important”, signalling concern over recent yen gains that could cool a strengthening economic recovery.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said G7 and G20 major economies have agreed that excess volatility and disorderly currency moves could hurt economies.

“There’s no change to our view the global economy is growing steadily,” Suga told a news conference.

“Currency market stability is extremely important. The government will closely watch currency market moves with a sense of urgency,” he said.

The remarks followed ones on Tuesday by Japan’s top currency diplomat, Masatsugu Asakawa, that he was closely watching whether recent gains by the yen were speculative.

“The comments show the yen has risen at or close to levels that ring alarm bells among policymakers,” said Atsushi Takeda, chief economist at Itochu Economic Research Institute.

The recent global market sell-off has increased investors appetite for the safe-haven yen, pushing it up to a five-month high of 107.40 against the dollar on Tuesday. The yen stood around 107.50 yen against the dollar on Wednesday.

A strong yen erodes profits at Japanese manufacturers and could hurt an otherwise buoyant economy, which produced an eight straight quarter of growth in October-December. [nL4N1Q36TL]

Writing by Leika Kihara; Editing by Richard Borsuk