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By Leika Kihara
TOKYO, July 8 (Reuters) - The Bank of Japan already has an "extensive" range of instruments to engineer an exit from its massive stimulus programme, Deputy Governor Hiroshi Nakaso said on Tuesday.
But Nakaso stressed that it was premature to discuss specific measures to exit the central bank's "quantitative and qualitative easing" (QQE) programme.
"What I would like to emphasise is that the bank is still in the midst of striving to achieve the price stability target of 2 percent at the earliest possible time, and exit policies should be designed depending on the then-prevailing economic and inflation situation," he told a seminar.
Under its massive stimulus programme deployed in April last year, the BOJ has pledged to double base money via aggressive asset purchases to achieve its 2 percent inflation target in roughly two years to help revive the long-moribund economy.
With Japan only halfway to meeting its price target, the BOJ is set to keep its stimulus plan intact well into next year, in contrast to its U.S. and British counterparts, which are starting to telegraph plans for interest rate hikes.
Nakaso said that while the BOJ is striving to achieve its price target in two years, that did not mean it will end QQE strictly in two years because its aim is to achieve 2 percent inflation in a stable manner.
He also said consumer inflation is likely to slow toward the summer but accelerate thereafter and reach about 2 percent "in or around" the next fiscal year beginning in April 2015.
"The Bank will ... continue with QQE, aiming to achieve the price stability target, as long as it is necessary for maintaining that target in a stable manner," he said.
Core consumer inflation hit 1.4 percent in the year to May, excluding the effect of a sales tax hike in April.
The BOJ expects inflation to slow to around 1 percent in coming months as the boost from a weak yen, which inflates import costs, begins to fade, but will then accelerate again late this year.
Many economists, however, are sceptical that inflation will continue to pick up much beyond current levels. (Additional reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Edmund Klamann & Kim Coghill)