Japan PM adviser: Weak yen positive for Japan's economy

TOKYO (Reuters) - A weak yen is positive for Japan’s economy as it helps companies boost wages and investment by increasing their profits, an adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Thursday.

Illustrative picture shows Japanese 10,000 yen bank notes spread out at an office of World Currency Shop in Tokyo in this August 9, 2010 illustrative picture. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao/File Photo

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s plans for infrastructure spending and tax cuts are also appealing, because this would help the U.S. economy grow and in turn benefit Japan’s economy, Yasutoshi Nishimura told Reuters in an interview.

“I won’t comment on currency levels. But a weak yen generally helps lift corporate profits,” Nishimura said.

The yen JPY= has fallen to a 10-month low versus the dollar after the U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates and signaled rates will rise three times next year, up from two rate hikes flagged at its previous meeting.

The yen has tumbled 11 percent versus the dollar since Trump’s surprise election victory last month, partly due to expectations that the new administration’s stimulus plans would cause consumer prices to rise at a quicker pace, forcing interest rates higher, resulting in a stronger dollar.

Japanese government officials and companies tend to welcome a weak currency because it pushes up exporters’ earnings and contributes to inflation by raising import prices.

However, the yen’s fall in the past month has been so rapid that some traders and economists are worried about a sudden reversal or excess volatility.

A weakening yen boosts prices for imports, taking some pressure off the Bank of Japan.

Trying to lift the economy clear of a deflationary rut, the central bank has struggled to generate inflation through its massive quantitative easing program.

The BOJ’s last policy meeting of the year ends on Dec. 20, and improving economic data could lead the bank to upgrade its outlook, sources tell Reuters.

“The situation in the United States has changed so much it will have some impact on the BOJ’s decision making, but I expect monetary policy to remain accommodative,” Nishimura said.

Writing by Leika Kihara; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore