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Japan, Korea hold their nerve as currencies surge

The most remarkable thing about this year’s rallies in the yen and won is what’s not happening in Tokyo and Seoul: panic.

Like clockwork over the last decade, any jump in exchange rates would have had Japanese and South Korean officials – desperate to keep export prices competitive – squeaking with alarm.

Yet this time the usual suspects are silent and the usual catchphrases – from “we’re watching market trends urgently” to concerns about “one-sided” trades – are largely absent.

One reason is a recognition that the yen and won are rising for the right reasons. There is also, perhaps, a nascent realization in both capitals that the trend of rising currencies has more pros than cons.