The US dollar hit a three-and-a-half year high against the Japanese yen into the upper 96-yen range on Tuesday on expectations for the continued powerful monetary easing by the central bank and strong US jobs data. At 5 p.m. (0800 GMT), the dollar traded at JPY 96.40-42 against JPY 96. 24-34 in New York and JPY 96.05-06 in Tokyo at 5 p.m. Monday. The greenback climbed to JPY 96.67 at one point in the morning, its highest level since August 12, 2009. The yen\'s depreciation was also buoyed by speculation that Haruhiko Kuroda, the government\'s nominee for next Bank of Japan (BOJ) governor, may launch new monetary easing steps soon after he takes office on March 20, ahead of the central bank\'s first regular policy board meeting in early April. During a confirmation hearing at the upper house Monday, Kuroda said the BOJ\'s 2 percent inflation goal can be achieved by utilizing monetary policy. Kuroda, who has headed the Manila-based Asian Development Bank since 2005, is regarded as a supporter of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe\'s aggressive monetary easing policies.