Japan’s monetary base in January rose 13.4 percent from a year earlier to 95.367 trillion yen, up for the 24th straight month, the Bank of Japan said Tuesday.

The monetary base — cash in circulation plus money held by banks in current accounts at the BOJ — rose 19.5 percent in December.

The January increase marked the 17th straight month of double-digit rise.

The balance of banks’ current accounts at the BOJ rose 34.3 percent in the reporting month to 20.125 trillion yen, the central bank said. The balance had risen 83.2 percent the previous month.

The monetary base has grown quickly since March 2001, when the BOJ adopted a quantitative monetary-easing policy by injecting the banking system with funds in an effort to stem deflation.

Since late October, the BOJ has maintained a target range of 15 trillion yen to 20 trillion yen for the outstanding balance of current account deposits held at the central bank by private financial institutions.

The target level had previously stood at between 10 trillion yen and 15 trillion yen.

BOJ buys bank shares

The Bank of Japan said Tuesday it had bought 382.358 billion yen worth of shares from commercial banks since late November under a scheme aimed at protecting lending institutions from sharp falls in stock prices.

The balance of shares the BOJ bought from banks through Friday grew by about 102.2 billion yen from Jan. 20, according to the nation’s central bank.

The amount topped 100 billion yen for the first time since the BOJ launched the share-purchase program in late November.

The increase apparently came as banks ramped up the sale of shareholdings ahead of the March 31 book-closing for the 2002 business year.

Under the stock-purchase program, the BOJ will buy 2 trillion yen worth of shares by the end of September from banks whose shareholdings exceed their core capital.

If the amount of purchases fails to reach 2 trillion yen during the set period, the central bank will extend the program by one year.

The BOJ announces the outstanding balance of purchases every 10 days but refrains from disclosing the names of the shares purchased or the banks from which they were bought.

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