Japan’s inflation rises 0.5% for second straight month as fuel costs soar
Inflation in Japan rose 0.5 percent last month from a year earlier, growing at the fastest pace in nearly two years for the second straight month, as rising energy costs weighed on households.
Consumer prices were unchanged from November, the government said on Friday, marking the biggest gain since February 2020 and rising for a fourth straight month. The consumer price index, which excludes fresh food but includes energy costs, rose 16.4%.
The data comes a few days after the Bank of Japan Changed view on inflation risk For the first time since 2014, it raised its forecast from 0.9% to 1.1% for the fiscal year that began in April.
With inflation consistently running below its 2% target, the central bank has not changed its ultra-easy monetary stance. But Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda told a news conference on Tuesday that the central bank will “closely monitor” whether rising prices have a negative impact on incomes and households’ purchasing power.
But despite growing concerns about inflationary pressures, analysts believe Japan’s price restraints remain much weaker than elsewhere.
“Due to years of deflation, the failure of wages to rise and consumers unfamiliar with inflation, they are very sensitive to price increases. Prices in Japan are only expected to rise by about 1% for some time as supply constraints will ease in the second half of the year,” Okayama Securities chief economist Takuji Aida said.
Inflation is likely to remain below the BOJ’s 2 percent threshold, said Kazuma Maeda, Japan economist at Barclays Securities.
“In our view, unless inflation expectations and wages pick up significantly, inflation is unlikely to move upwards in the medium to long term,” he said in a note.
Maeda added that underlying inflation excluding energy costs will continue to lack momentum, hovering between 0.5% and 1% year-on-year due to structural factors.
CPI fell 0.2% in 2021, the second consecutive year of declines, as prices began to rise sharply towards the end of the year.
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