BOJ policymaker says next year's wage negotiations key

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BOJ policymaker says next year's wage negotiations key

The timing of the review would depend on economic and price developments, but it could come soon or later, Tamura said in a interview published on Friday that the outcome of next year's wage negotiations would be key.

He said that the outcome of the review will determine whether the BOJ changes its monetary policy.

The remarks are the first of an incumbent BOJ policymaker calling for a review of the pros and cons of yield curve control YCC, a policy that combines a negative short-term interest rate target with a pledge to cap the 10 year bond yield around 0 per cent.

They come ahead of a BOJ leadership transition when dovish governor Haruhiko Kuroda'sKuroda's second five-year term ends in April next year.

While Kuroda has ruled out the possibility of a near-term withdrawal of the stimulus, markets are rife with speculation that the BOJ may tweak YCC when his successor takes over the helm.

A former commercial banker, Tamura said the BOJ's stimulus helped improve the economy but was causing some distortions in market pricing, according to Asahi.

He said there was scope to review the feasibility of the BOJ's 2 per cent inflation target and consider it as a more flexible goal, as the level may have been too high for Japan, the paper said.

As long as the economy is achieving a virtuous cycle, I think it's okay, even if inflation is at 1.8 per cent instead of 2 per cent, he was quoted as saying.

Japan's core consumer inflation, which strips away volatile fresh food but includes fuel costs, exceeded the BOJ's 2 per cent target for seven consecutive months in October, as the weak yen propped up the cost of already expensive fuel and food imports.

But wage and service prices have barely risen, keeping the BOJ cautious of following in the footsteps of other central banks in the absence of stimulus.

Critics of YCC have warned of the rising cost of prolonged easing as the BOJ's relentless bond buying to defend its yield cap has drained bond market liquidity. Financial institutions have had to invest in risky investments because of the low rates of the past, which has hurt their profits.

The BOJ tends to conduct a review when it needs to justify a change to its policy framework. In 2016 it changed to YCC, which focuses on guiding interest rates from a policy targeting the pace of money printing.

In March of last year YCC was reviewed to make it more sustainable, such as by widening the band at which long-term rates could move around the 0 per cent target.