Maintaining its stance of watching and waiting, the Bank of Japan kept its monetary policy unchanged Friday in a unanimous vote in the absence of economic data to prompt more drastic measures.

Politicians have been calling for alternative measures.

The central bank said it will continue to feed money into the current accounts of private-sector banks at the BOJ to keep their balances between 15 trillion yen and 20 trillion yen.

Stock price levels are managing to hold their own and short-term money markets remain stable, giving little reason for the BOJ Policy Board to reverse course and support more drastic money-pumping measures.

The bank will provide funds to keep the balance above 20 trillion yen, “when necessary to secure financial market stability toward the end of a fiscal year,” the BOJ said.

The decision comes as the BOJ awaits the outcome of two events: The results of the Financial Services Agency’s ongoing inspections of the nation’s major banks, to be announced in April; and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s choice of a successor for departing BOJ Gov. Masaru Hayami, expected by the end of the month.

The results of FSA inspections into banks’ bad loans will be one barometer of how speedily bank reforms will make progress. Without these reforms, the effects of monetary easing will be limited, Hayami has asserted.

Friday’s unanimous decision is also a message to Koizumi that the nine-member Policy Board remains committed in its support for the current fiscal policy, a senior BOJ official said.

Since March 2001, the BOJ has been force-feeding the banking system with record amounts of money in the hope some of it will find its way to companies and individuals, stimulate demand and halt four years of falling prices.

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