Japan's foreign exchange reserves fell for the second straight month to USD 1.239 trillion at the end of June, down USD 11.53 billion from the previous month, the Finance Ministry said Friday. But the foreign reserves remained the world's second-largest after China's.
The drop in foreign exchange reserves was mainly due to the declining market value of the government's holdings of the US Treasury and other bonds, which were affected by higher interest rates in the US and Europe, the ministry said. A decline in gold prices also helped deflate Japan's reserves.
Japan's foreign exchange reserves consist of securities and deposits denominated in foreign currencies plus the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reserve positions, IMF special drawing rights and gold. As of June 30, foreign currency reserves stood at USD 1.176 trillion, IMF reserves at USD 13.55 billion, IMF special drawing rights at USD 19.49 billion and gold at USD 29.33 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 90.9 billion) in the final quarter of 2011, including the biggest ever single-day intervention at around JPY 7.5 trillion (USD 75.0 billion) on Oct. 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 3.44 trillion at the end of March, according to the latest comparable data.
Russia came third, followed by Switzerland, Taiwan and Brazil. Higher foreign reserves enable the countries to more readily defend the value of their currencies.