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Cabinet ministers appeared split Tuesday over the direction of the Bank of Japan’s monetary stance, with the central bank coming closer to ending its “zero-interest-rate” policy next week.

Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki hinted he is opposed to the BOJ raising rates at its Policy Board meeting next week, saying Japan has yet to quell deflation.

“At this point, I see the need (for the BOJ) to support the economy from the monetary side by maintaining the zero-rate policy to ensure the economy does not fall back into deflation and the recovery will be sustainable,” Tanigaki said.

But economy and financial services minister Kaoru Yosano said separately the economic, price and market conditions were beginning to fall into place that would allow the central bank to raise interest rates.

Yosano said: “Whether it is in July or August, the Bank of Japan will make its decision as an independent institution of the nation. I believe that it will make its decision responsibly and with discernment.”

Tanigaki apparently sought to dampen speculation about an early interest rate increase, particularly after the BOJ’s latest “tankan” survey of business sentiment showed strength Monday.

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