Japan's Abe: want BOJ consider sub-zero interest rates

TOKYO Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:09am EST

TOKYO Nov 15 (Reuters) - The head of Japan's main opposition party, Shinzo Abe, said on Thursday he wants the Bank of Japan to set interest rates at zero or below zero to enhance lending.

Abe, pushing the central bank for bold easing steps, told reporters he wants to work with the BOJ to reverse the trend of yen strength as it hurts the competitiveness of small firms.

Abe's Liberal Democratic Party leads in public opinion polls, putting him in a pivotal position to become the next premier after a general election to be held next month.

The Bank of Japan is expected to hold fire at a meeting of its policy board next week and may also defy market expectations of action in December, pushing back any further monetary stimulus until early next year to size up the policies of a new government, sources say. It currently aims to keep its key rate in a range of zero to 0.1 percent.