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The government will soon add mobile phone fees, personal computers and “gyudon” beef bowls to items monitored when compiling monthly consumer price indexes as part of a reshuffle of the gauges’ components, government officials said Wednesday. The new items will be used to calculate the CPIs starting from August, said officials at the Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry, which releases the indexes monthly.

The replacement is aimed at bolstering the CPIs’ credibility by increasing the number of items figuring in Japanese consumers’ shopping behavior in recent years, the officials said.

The replacement will be timed to coincide with a change in the base year used as the standard for making year-on-year comparisons to 2000 from the current base year of 1995.

The ministry will add 71 items for calculating the CPIs and remove 55 items, the officials said. Consequently, CPIs will be computed by monitoring the price fluctuations of 596 types of goods and services.

The ministry will add mobile phone fees as a subject of CPIs to have the gauges mirror the ups and downs in expenditures of consumers, especially youth, for items related to information technology, the officials said.

Prices of both notebook and desktop personal computers, whose prices have been on the decline amid price competition, will also be added.

The additions of personal computers as CPI components “will have the effects of shaving 0.1 to 0.2 percentage points off CPI readings,” said an official at the ministry’s statistical section.

The replacement of items that make up CPIs will probably make the indicators attest to the deflationary state of the economy more vividly, according to the officials.

Among foodstuffs included in the CPIs, cider will be replaced by coffee beverages. The gyudon bowl of rice topped with seasoned beef, a meal that has begun drawing growing hoards of consumers due to their cheap prices, will be added to the items.

In the services sector, the costs of nursing-care services at facilities for the elderly visiting such facilities daily will also be added, as will the cost of paying for a complete medical checkup, they said.

The costs of having public- or private-sector garbage collectors retrieve and dispose of bulky trash will also be added, they said.

Consumer prices in Tokyo fell a record 1.1 percent in March from a year before, substantiating allegations that the economy is in the grip of deflation.

It is possible that the reshuffle of the CPIs’ component items will further widen the margin of year-on-year falls in CPIs beyond the 2 percent line.

In the whole of fiscal 2000 through March 31, consumer prices dropped by a record 0.9 percent for the second consecutive annual fall in the wake of a 0.6 percent fall the preceding year.

Revised GDP data

The Cabinet Office said Wednesday it will release revised data on gross domestic product for the October-December quarter of 2000 at 8:50 a.m. next Wednesday.

In a preliminary report released March 12, the Cabinet Office reported the nation’s GDP grew an inflation-adjusted 0.8 percent in the October-December quarter from the previous quarter, or an annual pace of 3.2 percent.

GDP is the total value of goods and services produced domestically.

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