Even as prices for goods rise worldwide, Japan's long-held bid to boost inflation remains a distant goal.

The government announced Friday that Japan’s core consumer prices, excluding volatile fresh food, dropped by 0.2% from a year earlier, marking 12 straight months of decline and highlighting a continuing challenge for the nation's policymakers.

Thanks to pressure from Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's administration on Japan’s major carriers to lower monthly smartphone charges, mobile phone fees dropped by 39.6%, a major factor in the lower inflation rate. Energy prices climbed by a combined 5.8%, with gasoline and kerosene increasing by 19.6% and 25.2%, respectively, due to soaring crude oil prices.