Japan challenges dollar dominance

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Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, during his tour of Europe, said it was time to reassess the US dollar's dominance in the global financial system. "This dollar-oriented world needs to change," his spokesman, Sadaaki Numata, quoted Mr. Obuchi as telling French leaders last week. The Japanese leader arrived in Paris just a week after the official launch of the Jan. 1 euro currency in 11 European nations. Obuchi used the euro launch to make a plea for the Japanese currency. "Japan would like to increase the utility of the yen as an international currency," Obuchi was quoted as saying. Most central banks hold significant percentages of their currency reserves in dollars, and oil and many other major commodities are priced in dollars. Obuchi and French President Jacques Chirac agreed on the need for greater monetary cooperation between major powers, but stopped short of proposing a formal linking of the dollar, the yen, and the euro. Mr. Chirac indicated on Friday that he and Obuchi had determined there is a need to ensure the dollar, the yen, and the euro don't fluctuate excessively against each other.

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