Japan's foreign exchange reserves fell for the first time in two months to USD 1.278 trillion at the end of May, down 0.9 percent from the previous month, but remained the world's second-largest, the Finance Ministry said Thursday.
The drop in foreign exchange reserves, which includes convertible foreign currencies, gold, and International Monetary Fund (IMF) special drawing rights, was mainly due to the declining value of euro-denominated assets, the ministry said. As foreign reserve value is calculated in dollars, the euro's fall against the US dollar last month, which was triggered by Europe's sovereign debt crisis, reduced the value of Japan's euro-denominated assets.
As of May 31, foreign currency reserves stood at USD 1.20 trillion, gold at USD 38.33 billion, and IMF reserves at USD 15.39 billion.
Japan's reserves are closely monitored for evidence of how authorities are managing vast foreign currency holdings, as the actions have significant impact on currency exchange rates and global bond markets, particularly in the US government bond market.
The authorities did not intervene in currency markets to stem the yen's rise after spending JPY 9.09 trillion (USD 114 billion) between October 28 and November 28, including the biggest ever single-day intervention at around JPY 7.5 trillion (USD 94 billion) on October 31, when the Japanese currency hit a postwar high of JPY 75.32 against dollar.
Japan is the only country with foreign reserves of more than USD 1 trillion besides China, whose holdings hit a record of USD 3.305 trillion at the end of March, according to the latest comparable data.