TOKYO — The chairmen of Japan's major corporations Wednesday called on the government to stabilize currency rates, spur the economy and open markets wider to foreign goods to end what one industrial chief termed "a state of emergency."
Anxious that trade friction and wild fluctuations of the yen will hobble economic growth, the Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren) appealed for a "substantial opening of the Japanese markets to rectify trade imbalances."
In a resolution released after its annual general assembly, the federation called on the government to realign the economy to promote greater growth and encourage more investment and technological exchanges overseas.
The statement focused primarily on uncertainty resulting from the more than 30% surge of the yen against the dollar since last September, saying the currency "has been rising at too quick a tempo, thereby casting various shadows over the economy, and its impact will become even more widespread and severe hereafter."
The federation called on the government to work with its major trade partners and intervene in currency markets to stabilize the value of the yen, as the seven major industrialized nations at the May 4-6 Tokyo summit pledged to do when necessary.
"The volatility of exchange rates has brought a crisis to the free-trade system because it undermines the confidence of business leaders in stability and disrupts their planning for foreign investment," Sony Chairman Akio Morita said at a post-assembly press conference.
U.S. and European officials, facing record trade deficits with Japan of $49.7 billion and $12.7 billion, respectively, urged Japan last September to join them in an effort to cut the value of the dollar and bolster the Japanese currency.
The plan has raised the price of Japanese goods overseas, thereby undermining their competitiveness, and slashed the sales of many export-oriented Japanese firms.
"We are in a state of emergency," Nippon Steel President Yutaka Takeda said.