By Takaya Yamaguchi
TOKYO (Reuters) -Japan’s government will urge the central bank to aim at achieving its 2% inflation target in a “sustainable and stable fashion,” a draft of its long-term policy outline seen by Reuters showed on Wednesday.
That was a change from the wording of the current policy outline, which voices hope that the Bank of Japan (BOJ) maintains ultra-easy policy to achieve its 2% inflation target.
A surge in commodity prices driven by the war in Ukraine has pushed up Japan’s core consumer inflation, which excludes fresh food but includes energy costs, to 2.1% in April – exceeding the BOJ’s 2% target for the first time in seven years.
Analysts expect core consumer inflation to remain around 2% for most of this year, as more companies pass on higher costs to households through price hikes. But overall economic demand remains weak.
The tweak in language underscores the government’s hope the BOJ keeps interest rates ultra-low until there are more clues the expected rise in inflation will be sustained, rather than respond to rising prices now with immediate policy tightening.
“The government will continue to conduct macro-economic policy flexibly … with a framework combining bold monetary policy, flexible fiscal policy and a growth strategy aimed at fueling private investment,” the draft said.
“We hope the BOJ achieves its 2% inflation target in a sustainable and stable fashion, with an eye on economic, price and financial developments,” it said.
The government’s policy draft will be the first one to be compiled under Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and serve as a basis for future economic policy-making. It is expected to be finalised upon cabinet approval early next month.
BOJ officials have stressed the central bank won’t respond to the current cost-push inflation with tighter monetary policy, and will “patiently” maintain its massive stimulus until price rises are driven by stronger domestic demand and higher wages.
(Reporting by Takaya Yamaguchi, writing by Leika Kihara, editing by Andrew Heavens and Kim Coghill)