The Bank of Japan could change its zero-interest rate policy before figures confirm a recovery in private-sector demand, a member of the central bank’s policy-setting panel said Wednesday.

“It’s not the case that policy change cannot be done unless we confirm a recovery of personal spending and corporate capital spending with real figures,” policy board member Teizo Taya told business leaders in a speech.

There has been speculation in financial markets that the central bank may end its 15-month-old zero-interest rate policy, which it uses to guide the unsecured call-money rate close to zero.

BOJ Gov. Masaru Hayami has said the central bank will maintain the zero-interest rate policy until fears of deflation are eliminated.

Hayami has said data on employment and wages could be used to determine whether the likelihood of deflation has reduced sufficiently. Taya took an optimistic view about employment and income, saying he expects a decline in the number of jobholders to cease, which will in turn lead to stable growth in income.

Taya said a tumble in U.S. stock prices, a fall in the value of the dollar, or a slowdown of the U.S. economy would be barriers to a decision by the BOJ to abandon the zero-interest rate policy.

But the possibility is high that the U.S. economy will attain a soft landing without major trouble, he said.

Taya shrugged off suggestions that an end to the zero-interest rate policy could trigger a collapse of the U.S. stock market.

“The inflow of capital from Europe to the United States is far bigger (than from Japan), so if something happens it would be because of irregularities in the flow of capital between the U.S. and Europe,” Taya said.