Japan’s dollar-buying operations in May pushed the nation’s foreign-exchange reserves to a record $419.65 billion at the end of that month, up $12.95 billion from the previous record of $406.7 billion, logged a month earlier, the Finance Ministry said Friday.
Japanese monetary authorities intervened in the currency market to prop up the dollar May 22 and 23, fearing that further appreciation of the yen would hurt Japanese exporters, who have been leading a mild economic recovery. It was Japan’s first currency market intervention since September.
A stronger yen makes Japanese goods more expensive abroad.
The ministry also attributed the sharp rise in Japan’s foreign-exchange reserves in the reporting month to the euro’s gains against the dollar.
The foreign-exchange reserves consist of securities and deposits denominated in foreign currencies plus International Monetary Fund reserve positions, IMF special drawing rights, and gold.
In May, Japan had $337.37 billion in foreign securities, up from $330.48 billion in April, and $65.97 billion in foreign currency deposits, up from $60.64 billion.
Of the deposits, $8.94 billion were at foreign central banks and the Switzerland-based Bank for International Settlements, $33.14 billion at Japanese banks and $23.89 billion at foreign banks.
Japan had $8.04 billion in gold, up from $7.58 billion in April.
It had $5.91 billion in IMF reserve positions and $2.38 billion in SDRs.
According to a survey by the IMF, Japan was by far the largest holder of foreign reserves of any country or territory, maintaining the position for the 30th consecutive month.
The euro zone came second at $252.9 billion as of March, followed by China at $227.4 billion as of February, Taiwan at $128.6 billion as of March, while Hong Kong had $111.3 billion as of February.
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