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Japan's Aso, Abe reject currency restrictions on trade pacts

Japan's Aso, Abe reject currency restrictions on trade pacts

"The criticism that our policies are meant to direct the yen lower is undeserved", Abe told fellow lawmakers.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has defended the BOJ's stimulus program against US President Donald Trump's, arguing that it is aimed at reshaping the economy rather than upsetting the yen.

Part of this discontent was aimed at Japan, which while being one of our strongest allies in the Pacific is also the source of a large trade disparity, especially in auto sales, with Japan exporting 1.6 million vehicles to the U.S. while only taking in a paltry 19,000 or so.

The matter was expected to be discussed during the first official meeting between Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on February 10 in Washington which will focus on economic ties and their bilateral security agreement.

Asked in parliament if Japan was doing anything to prevent the entry of US cars, both Abe and his trade minister, Hiroshige Seko, pointed out there are no tariffs on American vehicles.

At first glance, however, it could be a tough sell: exports to the USA - the Japan's biggest trading partner - account for around 3% of nominal GDP and a fifth of total overseas shipments, according to official data.

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Trump's election in November has boosted hopes for USA economic growth and lifted the dollar against the yen, seen as a boon to Japanese exporters. There are no dealers, they don't exhibit at the Tokyo Motor Show and they don't advertise on the television or in newspapers. "The basic approach to address an emergency together remains the same, with US forces coming to the rescue of Japan". Seko said the situation was the result of competition.

But Kazuo Momma, a former senior BOJ official who was directly in charge of global relations, said Trump's comments likely came as little surprise to the BOJ and won't bind the central bank's hands on monetary policy. Hemmed in by a pacifist constitution and a non-nuclear pledge, Japan relies on the U.S.to provide a "nuclear umbrella" to protect it from regional threats, including its neighbor China. It is expected to post a loss of almost two percent in January, a marked setback from the gains it enjoyed in the days after Trump first announced his stimulus plan.

At times, that's helped push down the value of the yen against the dollar, benefiting Japan's big exporters by making their products cheaper.

Any such talks could find a sticking point over cars.

"It's hard to make a clear cut case that Japan is really manipulating its currency", said Frederic Neumann, a senior Asia economist at HSBC.


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