‘Abenomics’ turn Aso into celebrity

Kyodo

On the sidelines of the Group of 20 financial leaders’ meeting, Finance Minister Taro Aso found himself sought out by many of his counterparts, who expressed a keen interest in Japan’s economic and monetary policies, a government source said.

Attending his first G-20 gathering as finance minister, Aso held brief talks during the two-day event in Moscow with International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and U.S. Treasury Undersecretary for International Affairs Lael Brainard, among others.

Aso, who concurrently serves as deputy prime minister, fielded numerous questions about Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policies, which have been dubbed “Abenomics,” the source said.

The yen’s steep recent fall, triggered by Abe’s extreme monetary easing measures, has forced developed and emerging countries alike to discuss how to avoid “competitive currency devaluations” aimed at boosting a nation’s exports.

Speaking to reporters after the first day of the meeting, Aso said he told other G-20 finance chiefs that the purpose of Abe’s monetary easing is to finally drag Japan’s economy out of its chronic deflation. He added that many of his counterparts said talk of a currency war is “clearly overblown.”

Responding in English to questions from foreign media outlets, Aso, himself a former prime minister, emphasized that the Abe government is not trying to manipulate foreign exchange rates.

Meanwhile, Aso and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who has expressed concern over Japan’s recent monetary easing, agreed Friday that their countries will continue to closely discuss economic and financial matters, the source added.