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Japan denies currency manipulation, rebuts Trump's forex comments

Japan denied Wednesday U.S. President Donald Trump's accusation
that Tokyo has been seeking to devalue the yen, saying that it is not
manipulating the foreign exchange market.

Trump's remarks put Japanese authorities on guard against
speculative yen-buying, prompting them to stress that the Bank of
Japan's monetary policy is not aimed at devaluing the yen but rather
pulling the economy out of chronic deflation.

The criticism that Japan is encouraging the yen to devalue is
"not true," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a session of the House
of Representatives Budget Committee.

Abe said Japan will explain its stance to the United States if
necessary, suggesting that he may raise the issue during his upcoming
meeting with Trump in the United States on Feb. 10.

Trump told a meeting of pharmaceutical executives in Washington
on Tuesday that Japan and China are playing "the money market." "They
play the devaluation market and we sit there like a bunch of
dummies," he added.

The dollar slumped to a two-month low of 112.08 yen at one point
in New York on Tuesday following Trump's remarks. The dollar traded
around the 113 yen line in Tokyo.

"Stability in currencies is important and we will continue to
monitor developments in the currency market carefully," Chief Cabinet
Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference.

Other officials defended Tokyo's stance that foreign exchange
rates are determined by markets and volatility is not desirable.

"Foreign exchange rates are led by the markets. We are not
manipulating them," Masatsugu Asakawa, vice finance minister for
international affairs, told reporters on Wednesday.

"I don't quite understand what (Trump) actually meant," Asakawa
said, noting it has been a long time since Japan last intervened in
currency markets.

The Japanese business community expressed concern about the
impact of Trump's criticism on businesses, with the possibility of a
stronger yen raising an alarm with some company officials.

A stronger yen against the U.S. dollar cuts into the profits of
Japanese exporters when repatriated and makes Japanese exports less
competitive overseas.

An executive of an automaker said that while it was hard to
immediately assess the impact of Trump's criticism on the company's
performance, a stronger yen "would really hurt."

Trump's election in November has boosted hopes of U.S. economic
growth and lifted the dollar against the yen, seen as a boon to
Japanese exporters. Trump, who has taken a more protectionist stance
on trade, has said the dollar is too strong.

Since taking office in 2012, Abe has been seeking to revitalize
the deflation-mired Japanese economy. His "Abenomics" policy mix
includes bold monetary easing that has helped weaken the yen and lift
Japanese share prices.

After years of efforts to attain its 2 percent inflation target,
the BOJ is aiming to keep the 10-year government bond yield target at
around zero percent, helping curb rises in Japan's long-term interest
rates as a way to spur the economy.

BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said Tuesday after a policy meeting
that the central bank's policy is designed to achieve price stability
as it aims to attain a 2 percent inflation target.

"(Trump's) comments are only part of what he said at the
pharmaceutical industry's meeting and we should not worry about it.
We will explain (Japan's stance) through various channels," a
Japanese diplomatic source said. (Feb. 1)