Yen-denominated exports from Japan topped 40 percent of total exports in the January-June period for the first time on record, the Finance Ministry said Friday.

The rise is believed to reflect an increase in exports to China and other Asian markets, where exports from Japan are mostly settled in yen.

Of all exports by Japanese companies in the first half of this year, 40.1 percent were settled in yen, up 0.8 percentage point from the preceding six-month period. It was the first rise above 40.0 percent since the government began compiling such data in 2000.

Yen-denominated trade, which frees Japanese companies from the risk of exchange rate fluctuations, is expected to increase gradually in view of brisk exports of semiconductors and other products to Asian markets, the ministry said.

The dollar remained the most widely used currency of settlement. It was used for 46.8 percent of exports by Japanese companies in the January-June period. Compared with the first half of 2001, however, the ratio of dollar-based transactions dropped 6.2 points, and the yen rose 5.9 points.

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