The dollar rose sharply against the Japanese yen and finished mixed against major European currencies yesterday.

Trading was very light with all European markets except London and Amsterdam closed for May Day.

In Tokyo, a dramatic improvement in the U.S. trade figures last month - particularly with Japan - touched off active buying of the dollar to drive the currency almost to a one-year high.

The dollar closed the day at 223.75 yen, a hefty gain of 4.60 points from Friday's close of 219.15. It was the highest dollar rate in Tokyo since May 31, 1978. Tokyo markets were closed Monday for a holiday. At the close of interbank trading in New York, the dollar rose to 224.10 yen.

"Japan's dependence on ever-more-expensive imported oil will continue to have an adverse effect on the yen," according to Vincent Tese, a partner in the trading firm of James E. Sinclair & Co.

The pound fell in London to $2.06 from $2.069 Monday and it weakened to $2.059 in New York. The pound's weakness was attributed to the latest poll that showed the Labor Party has taken the lead in Thursday's general elections.

In Amsterdam, the dollar closed at 2.057 guilders compared with last Friday's finish of 2.052 and it rose to 2.0583 in New York. The Amsterdam market also was closed Monday for a holiday.