TOKYO (Reuters) -- Japan's auto lobby today urged the government and the central bank to quickly implement measures to counter the strong yen, after it hit a seven-month high against the dollar on Thursday.
The currency has strengthened to under 78 yen per dollar from more than 120 yen five years ago, making it more expensive to export goods and squeezing Japanese automakers' margins.
Car firms also face costly labor regulations, high corporate taxes and an energy policy deadlock after last year's Fukushima crisis that led to a shutdown of most of the country's nuclear reactors, the trade group says.
"The current foreign exchange level, which is far from the actual ability of the Japanese economy, goes much beyond the limits of what companies can do through efforts to cut costs," Akio Toyoda, the head of Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA), said in a statement.
"Japan's manufacturing is facing a great crisis again, and if things remain this way it could have a further impact on employment," said Toyoda, who is president of Toyota Motor Corp.
The yen traded at around 77.59 against the dollar today -- it hit 77.13 yen on trading platform EBS the previous day -- after the U.S. Federal Reserve announced bold stimulus measures.
To limit impacts from the yen's rise in value, automakers are shifting production abroad.
Toyota price hikes
Toyota is considering raising prices, including on exports, a company spokesman said today.
"Facing the rise of the yen, we are considering various ways to cut costs. As a part of making the business profitable again, our options include price hikes such as for cars we export from Japan," said Joichi Tachikawa, a spokesman at Toyota.
He declined to comment on the details of the possible price hikes.
Toyota, which was the world's best-selling car maker in the first half of 2012, has repeatedly pledged to continue making 3 million vehicles annually in Japan.
It has recently decided to transfer production of the Yaris compact car for the North American market to France from Japan, and Lexus RX SUVs to Canada from Japan.