• Kyodo

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Japan wants to avoid the dollar falling to the 115 yen level, which was seen shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa said Thursday.

It is unusual for a finance minister to refer to a specific exchange rate.

There is speculation that the dollar could fall to that level, Shiokawa told reporters upon his arrival in Copenhagen to attend a two-day gathering of the finance ministers of the Asia-Europe Meeting that started Friday.

“We want to avoid (the dollar) going there. Rapid changes are undesirable,” he said.

Shiokawa hinted that Japan will continue dollar-buying, yen-selling intervention in foreign-exchange markets to stem the dollar’s months-long decline.

“Japan will continue to make efforts to limit erratic movements to minimum levels,” he said.

In recent weeks, the government has been carrying out rounds of dollar-supportive intervention.

The dollar hit the 115 yen level on Sept. 20, falling from the 121 yen level before the Sept. 11 terror attack. The U.S. currency has recently traded around 120 yen, compared with levels above 130 yen three months ago.

Shiokawa’s remarks are believed to reflect strong concerns in Japan about the dollar’s recent depreciation against the yen, which could deal a blow to a recovery in the Japanese economy by eroding its exporters’ global price advantage.

Shiokawa reiterated the government’s goal of revitalizing Japan’s economy by stepping up deregulation, fostering leading industries and reforming tax systems.

“The Japanese economy has yet to have real momentum for its revitalization, although it has bottomed out,” he said.

Shiokawa expressed confidence in the economic fundamentals of the U.S., where stock prices have been battered by a series of corporate accounting scandals.

“We see the U.S. corporate scandals as peculiar cases. We do not need to have a pessimistic view on the overall U.S. economy,” he said.

With the European economy picking up, the global economy will “move in a good direction if threats of terrorist attacks are reduced,” Shiokawa said.

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