| 2 December 2023, Saturday |

Japan contemplates yen intervention and policy shift as economic concerns mount

Takehiko Nakao, a former Japanese currency diplomat, has expressed worries regarding the weakening value of the yen. He has suggested that Japan might have to consider intervening in the currency market once more. Nakao has also called on the Bank of Japan (BOJ) to reevaluate its ultra-easy monetary policy.
In a recent interaction with Reuters, Nakao spoke about the risks associated with prolonged monetary easing, highlighting the need for a possible policy modification.

Reuters quoted Nakao as saying, “There may be views that the intervention is not imminent as the depreciation has not been so rapid compared to the last time when authorities intervened in September/October. But it’s fully possible the authorities will conduct intervention in case the yen weakens further.”
In the face of a weakening yen, Japan has spent over 9 trillion yen last year to stabilise the currency. The yen, currently trading around 147.77 against the dollar, has been a cause for concern, as a weaker yen can negatively impact Japan’s exports and create economic instability.

Takehiko Nakao, who worked as the top currency diplomat from August 2011 to March 2013, supervised a significant intervention in 2011 to control the yen’s strength in response to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing. However, now that the yen is considerably weaker, Japan faces different economic challenges, such as rising import prices and increased living costs.

Nakao’s concerns are echoed by investors who view prolonged monetary easing as distorting markets and hurting bank profits. A weaker yen has emerged as a result of Japan’s contrast with the global trend of monetary control. Other major central banks, such as the Federal Reserve, have hiked interest rates to fight off inflation while the BOJ continues to undertake potent monetary stimulus measures.

As the BOJ concludes its two-day meeting this week, it is widely expected to maintain its yield curve control (YCC) targets at a negative 0.1 per cent for short-term interest rates and 0 per cent for the 10-year bond yield. However, Nakao, who is in talks with present policymakers, argues for a change in direction.

“In the face of ongoing headline inflation and an excessively weak yen, the BOJ may have no choice but to proceed with monetary policy normalisation, including an exit from negative rate policy and yield curve control, so as not to fall behind the curve,” Nakao told Reuters. “Given that JGB yields remain stable and inflation is on the rise, now is the chance to tweak yield curve control.”

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