February 16, 2015 / 6:09 AM / 4 years ago

Abe hopes BOJ keeps stimulus to meet inflation goal, upbeat on economy

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday he hopes the central bank continues with its bold monetary easing campaign to achieve its 2 percent inflation target.

Speaking in parliament, Abe praised the BOJ’s aggressive stimulus program for helping revive the economy and wipe out the public’s “sticky deflationary mindset.”

He sidestepped a question from an opposition lawmaker on whether the government needs to be concerned about the demerits of excessive monetary easing, saying only that specific monetary policy measures were up to the BOJ to decide.

“I hope the BOJ continues to steadily proceed with bold monetary easing to achieve 2 percent inflation,” Abe said.

The BOJ has kept monetary policy steady since expanding its quantitative easing program in October last year to prevent slumping oil prices and a subsequent slowdown in inflation, from delaying achievement of its 2 percent price goal.

The central bank is in no mood to ease again any time soon on the view the economy is recovering steadily, which was underscored by Monday’s data showing that Japan emerged from recession in the final quarter of last year.

Abe and his associates have also signaled that they are comfortable with the BOJ standing pat, as opposition parties have criticized Abe’s stimulus policies for spurring an unwelcome sharp fall in the yen that drove up import costs.

Abe, speaking after Monday’s GDP data, acknowledged that some weakness has been seen in household spending due largely to the effect of last year’s sales tax hike.

But he added that he saw signs of recovery in the economy, such as improvements in consumer sentiment.

“We’ll strive to ensure that wages keep rising this year and next, so that the warm breeze of recovery blows throughout the nation,” Abe said.

Editing by Chris Gallagher and Jacqueline Wong

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