A 4% move in an equity market is large, but a 4% move in a currency market within seconds is massive. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Yen has strengthened as retail investors are exiting the carry trade:
Many retail investors, particularly in Japan, had put on highly leveraged trades involving selling the yen and buying higher-yielding currencies like the Australian dollar or the Brazilian real. But since the earthquake, the yen has soared, quickly turning the trades sour.
My own take is that we would have to be talking about some incredibly wealthy retail investors with impeccable timing. What is more likely is that there is a mass exodus of retail and institutional investors. More importantly is the near certainty that the Japanese central bank intervened as it saw its currency strengthen against the dollar by 4% in a split second. They certainly do not want their exports to appear uncompetitive when they have just been knocked down by mother nature.