TOKYO — Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso raised eyebrows Wednesday by mentioning a specific exchange rate when he denounced the now-common description of the nation’s currency being soft.
The yen “has yet to reach 120 [to the U.S. dollar]. This level shouldn’t be called ‘a weak yen,'” he told a meeting of the lower house’s finance committee.
With the remarks, Aso broke the traditional practice of a finance minister keeping silent on explicit exchange rates deemed desirable. He may be considered to have deviated from Group of 20 rules on foreign exchange policy for his statement.
Having pointed out that the yen was trading at around 120 to the greenback right before the 2008 financial crisis, Aso apparently considers that number an indicator of a weak yen.
Aso said he expects to hold his first meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at next month’s G-20 gathering in Germany. Mnuchin “will be representing the U.S., so I must discuss matters for Japan’s interests,” Aso emphasized.