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No forex let-up in Japan reshuffle

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Arab Today, arab today No forex let-up in Japan reshuffle

Tokyo - AFP

Japanese Finance Minister Jun Azumi said on Tuesday there will be no let up in vigilance of the economy and "no political vacuum" during a reshuffle that will see him step down from the job. He said Japan will keep a close eye on the yen and be ready to intervene to keep it from being pushed higher by speculators looking to take advantage of the transition. "You shouldn't assume any policy gap will be created" by the change in personnel, Azumi told a regular news conference. "I will take decisive action when necessary until the last second" before leaving the finance ministry, he said. "It is wrong for speculators to think that there will be a political vacuum." Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told local media Monday he will appoint Azumi as acting secretary general of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in a cabinet reshuffle expected as early as October 1. Azumi, who has not been universally popular in financial circles, said he will do his best in handing over to his successor, who will be tasked with a key role at the International Monetary Fund's annual meeting in Tokyo next month.While a replacement was not announced, the Sankei Shimbun reported Tuesday that Deputy Prime Minister Katsuya Okada will take over the role of trying to steer the stuttering economy back to health. Noda is under pressure to call a general election this year after he offered his opponents a vague pledge to dissolve parliament "sometime soon" in exchange for their support on a pet project to raise sales tax. But woeful opinion poll numbers have left many in his factionally-riven DPJ fearing for their seats, with the opposition Liberal Democratic Party seen likely to win a national ballot. Commentators say Noda's reshuffle is a bid to boost his waning popularity and reinvigorate his government after the costly battle to pass tax legislation. With the economy in the hands of Okada, a DPJ old hand who has wide parliamentary experience, currency dealers expect to see little difference in policy. "I don't expect much impact from such a change, but there is some concern that overseas speculators may buy the yen to take advantage of this," a dealer told Dow Jones Newswires. "There's a question over replacing the minister at this time before international meetings in Tokyo, but the market will get relief once it is confirmed that there will be no change in currency policy," Kenji Yumoto, vice chairman of Japan Research Institute, said. Okada "may be the most appropriate as he is well-versed with policies. I don't expect any big negative reaction if he is appointed", Yumoto said. Taro Saito, an economist at NLI Research Institute, said there would likely be little directional change, no matter who was in charge at the finance ministry. "But if Mr. Okada is appointed, Japan will lean towards an improvement of its fiscal health as he is a firm believer in fiscal discipline," he said. "If some political pressure emerges against implementing the consumption tax hike in the future, Mr. Okada would resist the pressure -- but I'm not sure if Mr. Azumi held a firm belief in improving Japan's fiscal health," Saito said. The dollar stood at 77.78 yen in Tokyo afternoon trade on Tuesday.

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