* Board member Sato wants to manage price target with
* BOJ's Sato says low yields show markets approve of tax
* Some investors worry about economy after sales tax hike
* Economy to rebound quickly after tax hike, Sato says
By Stanley White
TOKYO, Feb 27 Bank of Japan board member
Takehiro Sato said on Thursday the central bank can be flexible
on the timing of an eventual exit from its monetary easing, a
sign that simply reaching its 2 percent price stability goal
will not trigger immediate action.
Sato also said he is confident that consumer prices can
continue to rise as improvements in the output gap have a
lagging impact on prices.
The central banker also stressed that the BOJ's economic
forecasts anticipate volatile swings in demand caused by a
scheduled increase in the sales tax, suggesting he sees little
need to adjust policy in the short term.
"If the BOJ can judge that 2 percent will be sustainably
achieved, it is possible to exit our policy before inflation
actually reaches that level," Sato said after giving a speech to
"The BOJ can also continue quantitative easing after 2
percent inflation is reached if it judges that the gains are not
The BOJ last week maintained its pledge of increasing base
money, its key monetary policy gauge, at an annual pace of 60-70
trillion yen ($589 billion-$687 billion).
The BOJ has stood pat on policy since launching an intense
burst of stimulus last April, when it pledged to accelerate
inflation to 2 percent in roughly two years via aggressive asset
purchases in a country mired in deflation for 15 years.
The government will increase the sales tax in April to 8
percent from 5 percent, and consumers have been buying cars,
homes and durable goods before the increase, with growth in
other consumer spending also driving industrial production.
Long-term bond yields are low now because investors view
this tax hike as a proof of the government's commitment to
fiscal consolidation, Sato said.
A PSYCHOLOGICAL BATTLE
When the BOJ does eventually exit its quantitative easing,
bond yields could shoot up as Japan would be firmly out of
deflation, Sato also said.
Sato declined to outline specific exit strategies, saying
it's too early to debate such measures as the BOJ is still
waging a psychological battle to lift inflation expectations and
convincingly end deflation.
The BOJ is looking at a broad measure of prices, and not
just Japan's core consumer price index, when it tries to measure
the trend for inflation.
The sales tax hike will make measuring the price trend more
difficult and the central bank will need to monitor the
situation for several months, Sato said.
The economy is likely to contract in the April-June quarter
as consumer spending falls sharply after the sales tax hike
takes effect on April 1.
However, Sato said he was confident that growth would resume
in July-September as the economy and financial system are
stronger than they were when Japan last raised the sales tax in