Japan bought 10% of eurozone fund’s latest bonds

Wednesday, 9 November 2011 00:02 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

TOKYO (AFP): Japan bought half as many bonds as usual in the eurozone rescue fund’s latest issue, an official in Tokyo said Tuesday, as the European auction struggled amid fears over the region’s debt crisis.

Tokyo purchased 300 million euros ($413 million) of debt from the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), or 10 percent of the total issue, compared with 20 percent in previous sales.

Japanese leaders previously suggested its purchases would stay around 20 percent, although an official said Tuesday “it is not true that there is a fixed share” for Japan.

Japan has purchased a total of 2.975 billion euros of EFSF bonds so far this year.

“We took into account our euro liquidity (in Japan’s special account of foreign currencies), terms on issuance and the market environment,” the official said of the fall in the Japanese purchasing share.

While the sale of all the three billion euros in debt will be crucial to the EFSF -- the fund set up to provide support to struggling European economies such as Ireland and Portugal -- it was met with a weak response.

There are concerns that the debt crisis in Greece and now Italy could see either of them default, which could lead to chaos in the eurozone and possibly another global recession.

Amid fears over Italy’s ability to contain a huge debt mountain, the yield on the country’s 10-year bonds hit a record high 6.676 percent on Monday.

Tokyo fears that any further deterioration in the European crisis could cause serious problems for Japan’s export-dependent economy as it gradually recovers from the impact of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Adding to pressure on the Japanese economy is the soaring yen, which has seen huge buying interest due to its safe haven status while global confidence is shaken by crises in the eurozone and the United States.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda warned last week that the eurozone debt crisis could trigger a chain reaction throughout the world.

“In Europe, we need to avoid a chain reaction triggered by the budgetary problems in certain countries,” Noda said Thursday at a business round table before the G20 summit in Cannes, France.

“You can’t let the financial sector collapse,” he said. “You can’t let the real economy suffer excessively.”The government last week launched its fourth yen-selling intervention in just over a year as it looked to weaken a unit whose recent strength has threatened the nation’s recovery from the March disasters.

Finance Minister Jun Azumi has so far spoken against the idea of selling yen for euros to pay for EFSF debt purchases, as he said such moves would amount to currency market intervention.

China, which had previously bought EFSF bonds, has so far remained noncommittal about future purchases.