(Edited from Xinhua, Tokyo) Japan’s Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda confirmed that Japan has intervened in the currency market for the first time since March 2004 to stem the yen’s rise, which has spiked to a 15-year high against the U.S. dollar and severely battered Japan’s export-led recovery.

“We have conducted an intervention in order to suppress excessive fluctuations in the currency market,” said Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who alluded to further intervention into the currency market if deemed necessary.

(Edited from Xinhua, Tokyo) Japan’s Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda confirmed that Japan has intervened in the currency market for the first time since March 2004 to stem the yen’s rise, which has spiked to a 15-year high against the U.S. dollar and severely battered Japan’s export-led recovery.

“We have conducted an intervention in order to suppress excessive fluctuations in the currency market,” said Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who alluded to further intervention into the currency market if deemed necessary.

“We will closely monitor currency developments, and take firm action including intervention,” Noda said, adding that the move by Japan was unilateral.

The yen’s recent appreciation has severely weighed on the Tokyo stock market of late and following news of Japan’s intervention the key Nikkei stock index climbed 1.8 percent.

Many Japanese companies have set their assumption rates for dollar/yen at 90 yen and at 110-115 yen for euro/yen in the year to March 2011 and when the yen is strong profits are eroded when repatriated; hence a weaker yen will be welcomed particularly by Japanese exporters.

Japan hasn’t actually intervened in the currency market since March 2004 when the yen was at 109 per dollar at that time the BOJ sold 14.8 trillion yen (177 billion U.S. dollars) in the first three months of 2004, after record sales of 20.4 trillion yen in 2003.

Market strategists had previously thought that Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who staved off a leadership challenge from ruling party heavyweight Ichiro Ozawa on Tuesday, would be reluctant to intervene in currency markets so quickly and was more tolerant of a stronger yen, which rose after he won the Democratic Party of Japan’s leadership election yesterday.

The revised view in the market is that the Kan is now actively trying to reverse the perception that he lacks a proactive stance when it comes to the strength of the yen and his readiness to act decisively.

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