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A senior Bank of Japan official said Sunday the central bank is ready to take additional monetary easing steps should the economy deteriorate further, while economic minister Heizo Takenaka called for the establishment of a clearer inflation target to prevent deflation.

Appearing on the same TV talk show, however, BOJ Executive Director Minoru Masubuchi and Takenaka, state minister in charge of economic and fiscal policy, differed over the issue of whether the BOJ should adopt an inflation target.

“We will consider our options flexibly when there is a need for additional monetary easing,” Masubuchi said in underlining the BOJ’s readiness to take additional steps.

The BOJ decided at its Policy Board meeting Tuesday to further ease its monetary policy, pumping more cash into the banking system by raising its target for the balance of current accounts held at the BOJ by financial institutions and increasing the outright purchase of outstanding long-term government bonds.

The BOJ also maintains an inflation policy it declared when it first adopted its “quantitative” monetary-easing steps in March — continuing the measures until the consumer price index, excluding perishable goods, stabilizes at zero percent or registers a year-on-year rise. But Takenaka said the BOJ’s way attaining what he called a “moderate” inflation target “is unclear.”

“There is some room remaining for more thought,” he said, stressing the need to set a clearer target and adopt other measures to prevent the economy from falling into a deflationary spiral.

Masubuchi defended the BOJ’s decisions, saying it “has included such an implication” as a condition for continuing the steps.

“We’re determined to protect what we need to protect,” Masubushi said in brushing off increased pressure on the BOJ from the government and ruling coalition parties to adopt a so-called “adjustment inflation policy” of marshaling all policy resources to set and attain a targeted inflation rate.

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