BOJ policymaker signals chance of policy tweak early next year

By Leika Kihara

KUSHIRO, Japan (Reuters) – Bank of Japan board member Naoki Tamura said the central bank could have enough data in the first quarter of next year to judge whether inflation can sustainably hit its 2% target, a prerequisite for phasing out ultra-loose monetary policy.

While inflation already exceeds its 2% target, the BOJ has pledged to maintain ultra-low interest rates until there is more evidence that level can be met in a sustained fashion.

Tamura said a sustained, stable achievement of the bank’s 2% inflation target was now “clearly in sight,” as companies shed their aversion to price and wage hikes.

“It’s appropriate at this stage to sustain monetary easing, and earnestly scrutinise wage and price developments,” Tamura said a speech to business leaders in Kushiro, northern Japan.

“But I’m hoping that around January through March next year, we will have further clarity” on whether Japan can sustainably meet the bank’s inflation target through wage and price data available by then, he said.

(Reporting by Leika Kihara; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Sam Holmes)