Furukawa says he’s set to tackle high yen

New economy minister insists Noda team is on same page


Staff Writer

Economic and fiscal policy minister Motohisa Furukawa said Thursday he and other economy-related ministers stand united on tackling the yen’s excessive surge, with an eye on both maximizing the merits of a strong currency and helping small and midsize companies suffering from the high exchange rate.

Furukawa, who was named a Cabinet minister for the first time last week, said in an interview in Tokyo that he isn’t in a position to comment on intervention or the effect of the government getting involved in the foreign-exchange market.

But he acknowledged that the current rate “is substantially high” and that the government will “handle the situation appropriately.”

The Aichi Prefecture native expressed hope last week that the Bank of Japan would act strongly to back the country’s sagging economy.

Regarding the BOJ’s decision Wednesday to refrain from further easing monetary policy, Furukawa would only say that the central bank “studied the current situation and acted on its judgment.”

But he also said collaboration with the BOJ will remain crucial in fighting not only the strong yen, but also deflation and other fiscal issues.

“We will work together closely with the BOJ, and exchange information and opinions in order to build a common understanding” of the economy, Furukawa said.

Tagging along on the remarks made by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Finance Minister Jun Azumi, Furukawa said the government must ask the public to shoulder a portion of the costs for rebuilding the disaster-hit area in Tohoku and manage the nation’s increasing social welfare costs with a tax hike.

But the government is ready to discuss all possible measures to gather as many financial resources as possible to reduce the burden on the public, he added.

Selling the government’s stake in Japan Tobacco Inc. and subway operator Tokyo Metro Co. “should be on the table of discussion,” Furukawa said, explaining that the Noda administration is ready to examine all options available.

Furukawa, considered a future candidate for DPJ president, once served as deputy chief Cabinet secretary. He entered the Lower House in 1996 after quitting the Finance Ministry.

That background has helped him play a central role in DPJ panels on financial and social security reform.