SENIOR ministers from Japan and the United States are to meet over breakfast in Bali today to discuss the currency crisis affecting the two nations. US Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and Japanese Finance Minister Masayoshi Takemura are to meet this morning before an official gathering of finance ministers from the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) group, a member of the US delegation said. Mr Takemura had previously said he hoped to meet Mr Rubin, and encourage the US to defend the dollar, at the APEC meeting in Sanur, Bali. Although APEC's main goal is reducing trade barriers between Asian countries, the sagging dollar and the continuing trade dispute between the US and Japan are overshadowing the meeting. The US dollar has tumbled about 15 per cent in recent weeks against the yen, falling to a post-World War II low of 80.15 yen last Monday before recovering to around the 84-yen level. Japan unveiled an economic package and cut a key interest rate on Friday in an attempt to halt the surging yen, open its market and slash its huge trade surplus, particularly with the United States. The Bank of Japan discount rate, charged on loans to other banks, was cut 0.75 percentage points to a record low of one per cent. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) subsequently urged the United States to raise its interest rates and cut its deficit to lend support to the dollar. Although currency traders and economists said Japan's economic package was too little too late, ministers gathered in Bali universally supported the move. 'It is definitely an important issue that needs to be discussed,' Dahlan Sutalaksana, assistant to Indonesian Finance Minister Mar'ie Muhammad, said. Mr Sutalaksana said although the central Bank of Japan's move to cut its discount rate was not on the official agenda, it was being discussed among delegations from the forum's 18 member countries. Thai Finance Minister Tarrin Nimmanahaemminda said Bangkok welcomed the Japanese package as 'very positive', saying it would lead to less volatility in the currency market. Hellen Cutts, a policy adviser at the Canadian department of finance, said: 'It is a good thing to stimulate Japan's economy.' The package also included a commitment to speed up deregulation. Although Canada was in support of such a move, Ms Cutts added: 'We would also hope that they would do a few more structural measures to address the current account surplus and to encourage more domestic consumption.' She said Tokyo should also make sure it did not introduce new sales taxes, but instead use deficit-financing to pay the bill. Mr Sutalaksana echoed Ms Cutts' comments, saying that other factors also accounted for the appreciation of the yen and that these aspects should be dealt with. He added that more was needed to reduce the attractiveness of the yen as an investment and speculative tool, but he did not elaborate. He said other Tokyo moves should follow because the yen's rise was not only hurting the economies of developing countries 'but it will be killing Japan itself'. Singapore's Finance Minister, Richard Hu Tsu Tau, on Friday hailed the Japanese package as a 'big move' but added that more measures were needed. A study by US investment house Salomon Brothers of nine Asian economies, released last week, said the stronger yen could lead to deterioration of bilateral trade balances, with Indonesia and Thailand the worst hit. About 40 per cent of Indonesia's US$100 billion foreign debt is yen-denominated and officials have said that for every one per cent appreciation of the yen over the dollar, debt obligation rises another $350 million. The 18 members of APEC are: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Papua New Guinea, Thailand and the United States.