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Japan used more than 9 trillion yen to intervene in the foreign-exchange market between January and July, breaking its record for a full year, according to data released Thursday by the Finance Ministry.

The amount spent thus far in 2003 totals 9.026 trillion yen, surpassing the previous record of 7.641 trillion yen in all of 1999.

Japanese monetary authorities have intervened heavily in the foreign exchange market this year to curb the yen’s rise, which threatens to hurt the nation’s exporters. Exports remain one of the few bright spots in Japan’s struggling economy.

“We are intervening because there is a need to do so,” said Hiroshi Watanabe, director general of the ministry’s International Bureau.

“It would be favorable to use a low amount of funds for (intervention), but we will take necessary steps according to the situation of the market.”

Finance Ministry officials have admitted that Japan used 6.998 trillion yen from January to June to step into the currency market, although it has not given any breakdown on a monthly basis except for June, when it began announcing such monthly data.

Data released Thursday by the Finance Ministry show that Japan used 2.027 trillion yen between June 27 and July 29.

The ministry began announcing the amount of funds used in operations on a monthly basis — rather than on a quarterly basis — from last month, following calls from market participants to do so.

But details of the operations — the dates and the amounts used on each of those dates, as well as the currencies purchased and sold — are still revealed only once every quarter.

The monthly data exclude the last two business days of the month, since funds used on those days are settled the following month.

The Finance Ministry notifies the Bank of Japan when it wants to intervene.

The central bank acts as the ministry’s agent and places orders with banks.