With the Bank of Japan's announcement Thursday that it will not raise the key short-term interest rate this month, economists predict it will now be difficult to up the rate before the end of the fiscal year in March.

Political pressure against a rate hike is expected to continue after the Diet reconvenes Jan. 25 and key elections approach. Local government elections will be held in April and the House of Councilors election will be in July.

It is not clear whether the figures on private consumption and prices will grow in the near future.