Japan’s revolving-door politics may be diminishing the nation’s global influence after Jun Azumi was appointed the eighth finance minister since 2008.
In the Group of Seven nations, Japan’s tally compares with one finance chief for Canada and two each for the U.S., U.K., Germany, France and Italy in that time. Azumi, 49, was named in Tokyo yesterday to replace Yoshihiko Noda, who became prime minister, the sixth person to have that job in five years.
“It’s difficult to aggressively carry out economic diplomacy when leaders that attend important international meetings change positions right away,” Noda wrote in his blog after the 2010 G-20 meeting.
Japan’s concerns include the yen’s advance to a post-World War II high against the dollar last month, as the stronger currency may may hurt exporters’ earnings and endanger the nation’s economic recovery after the March 11 earthquake.
Azumi said late yesterday he will closely watch the yen’s strengthening trend as it’s negative for companies.
The G-7 jointly intervened in the currency market on March 18 after the yen surged following the disaster in the northeast. Japan’s government sold yen unilaterally last month, spending 4.51 trillion yen ($59 billion), the most for any month since 2004.
China’s currency policy is also a concern for Japanese policymakers, Noda said Aug. 23. “I think the yuan’s still not flexible enough so I want to keep discussing that at international meetings,” such as G-20 conferences, he said.
Azumi, a former head of parliamentary affairs for the ruling party, will be faced with the task of ensuring a rebound in Japan’s economy after three straight quarters of contraction.
A government report yesterday showed that capital spending tumbled 7.8 percent in the second quarter, bucking the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of economists for a 1 percent gain. The unemployment rate unexpectedly rose for a second month to 4.7 percent in July.
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