What sounded like a statement of the obvious by Bank of Japan Gov. Kazuo Ueda last week — that a country where prices are rising by 2% is, in fact, experiencing inflation — has more to it than meets the eye.

The language suggests the time is approaching when the world’s last surviving experiment in negative interest rates will be folded up.

By some measures, this isn’t the most auspicious moment for Japan to be laying the foundation for a historic shift in policy. The economy is in recession and inflation is retreating nicely after a post-pandemic spike. The response from officials is less than textbook; they sound determined to increase interest rates in coming months, an event commonplace in most economies, but exceptional in Japan.