Bank of Japan Deputy Gov. Ryozo Himino signaled that the central bank is inching closer toward putting an end to the world’s last negative interest rate regime by laying out a hypothesis for what might happen if rates do indeed go positive.

While Himino reiterated a standard pledge to continue with monetary easing until the BOJ achieves its goal of sustainable inflation with wage increases, he then outlined the various potential impacts that would follow an exit from large-scale stimulus partly by examining what happened when rates went negative.

"Today, I would like to offer one perspective by looking at what happened to net interest income for relevant sectors in the past during the transition from a state with positive interest rates to a state without them,” he said in a speech to local business leaders in the city of Oita.