Japan promises to support Europe by buying bonds

09:17, January 12, 2011      

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Japan pledged on Tuesday to buy eurozone bonds this month in a show of support for Europe's struggle with a seething debt crisis as Portugal wrestled to fend off market and peer pressure to seek a bailout.

Portuguese Finance Minister Fernando Teixeira dos Santos said his country was doing everything it could to avoid a EU-IMF financial rescue, already granted to Greece and Ireland, and was still paying relatively low interest rates.

"We are seeking to avoid this possibility," Finance Minister Fernando Teixeira dos Santos told TSF radio. "We are doing our work. Clearly, Europe is not doing its work to guarantee the stability of the euro."

However, a Portuguese central bank board member, Teodora Cardoso, was quoted as saying Lisbon would do better to seek international financing, breaking ranks with political leaders.

"It would be easier if we had foreign help because this would mean that the adjustment would not be so abrupt, but if we do it alone, for the markets to believe in it, it has to be brutal," Cardoso said, news agency Lusa reported.

Yields on Portuguese 10-year bonds remained above 7 percent yesterday, a level widely regarded as unsustainable, despite European Central Bank intervention to buy them reported by traders on Monday.

Japanese Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Tokyo was considering using its euro reserves to buy about 20 percent of the AAA-rated bonds to be jointly issued by the eurozone to raise funds to support Ireland.

"I think it's appropriate for Japan to purchase a certain amount of bonds to boost confidence in the EFSF (European Financial Stability Facility) and make a contribution as a major country," Noda said.

Japan's offer comes days after China renewed its commitment to buy Spanish debt and analysts said it reflected both Tokyo's concern about the impact of the crisis on its export-reliant economy and an effort to reassert itself on the global stage.

Unofficial estimates, described by a senior EU official as credible, suggest China holds more than 7 percent of the 8.8 billion euros (US$11.39 billion) in outstanding eurozone public debt. China holds most of this debt through its State Administration of Foreign Exchange and sovereign wealth funds.

Source: Shanghai Daily
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