• Kyodo

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Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda repeated Thursday that the central bank does not have a deadline to achieve 2 percent inflation and that monetary policy will remain accommodative until the target is reached.

His remarks came after policymakers last month ditched any reference to a time frame, leading to speculation the BOJ does not expect to be able to reach the goal by its fiscal 2019 forecast.

“The bank has not set a specific deadline for achieving 2 percent inflation and does not conduct monetary policy with such a deadline in mind,” he said in a speech organized by Kyodo News in Tokyo.

“I would like to stress that this does not mean that the significance or nature of the price stability target has changed,” he added. “Going forward, the bank will continue to pursue powerful monetary easing” to achieve the target “at the earliest possible time.”

Upon taking leadership of the BOJ in 2013, Kuroda introduced aggressive easing measures aimed at lifting inflation to 2 percent in around two years to bring the country out of its prolonged deflationary doldrums.

But the time frame was subsequently pushed back six times as weak household spending, exacerbated by consumer sentiment dented by a two-stage consumption tax hike in 2014, kept price gains from picking up at the intended pace despite otherwise firm economic conditions.

Core consumer prices, excluding fresh food prices due to their volatility, rose just 0.9 percent year on year in March despite otherwise firm economic conditions underscored by eight straight quarters of expansion through December, though economists forecast a temporary lull in the January-March quarter.

Kuroda also repeated his view that, with price gains still lacking momentum, it is still too early to communicate the BOJ’s strategy for exiting monetary stimulus.

“To describe concrete methods or a timing at this point would invite undue confusion,” he said.

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