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Japan's Jojima: ready to take firm steps on currencies

By Stanley White

TOKYO, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Japan's newly appointed Finance Minister Koriki Jojima said on Wednesday he is ready to take firm steps against currencies at any time as an excessively strong yen can be a burden on corporate and household activity.

Jojima, speaking to reporters, also said he could not comment on what will be discussed by Group of Seven finance ministers when they meet next week and was still considering what he would say about currencies.

Finance ministers from G7 countries will meet on Oct. 11 in Tokyo on the sidelines of International Monetary Fund and World Bank annual meetings in Japan.

It is uncertain how far Japan can push its agenda to reverse the yen's rise as the government has only just replaced its finance minister in a cabinet shakeup.

"I have seen from experience in the private sector how difficult it can be to deal with a rising yen," Jojima told reporters.

"I am very interested in currencies, and I feel ready to take firm measures when necessary."

Japan intervened in the market and sold yen about a year ago after it reached a record high of 75.31 yen versus the dollar, but since then the yen has not weakened much, proving a source of concern for politicians and the corporate sector. On Wednesday the dollar was trading around 78.22 yen.

Jojima, the former head of a labor union at Japanese food seasonings maker Ajinomoto Co , was appointed to his post on Monday.

He reiterated that he is reluctant to allow the Bank of Japan to buy foreign bonds to help weaken the yen.

Seiji Maehara, a senior member of the ruling Democratic Party and a vocal supporter of such action, was appointed economics minister in the reshuffle, fuelling speculation that the government could amend the law to allow purchases.

Jojima also said the BOJ and the government share a common goal of ending deflation and he expects the BOJ to take bold monetary steps when needed.

The BOJ is expected to keep monetary policy unchanged after a review ending on Friday even as weakening manufacturing activity in Asia continues to cloud the outlook, preferring to spend more time reviewing the effect of its policy loosening last month.

(Editing by Michael Watson)

((stanley.white@thomsonreuters.com)(+81 3 6441 1984)(Reuters Messaging: stanley.white.reuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: JAPAN ECONOMY/JOJIMA