24 Dec 2012

More pressure on Bank of Japan from new PM

7:10 am on 24 December 2012

Incoming Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants the Bank of Japan to set an inflation target of 2%, threatening to change a law guaranteeing the bank's independence if it does not agree.

Mr Abe said on Fuji Television on Sunday the Bank's central policy board must back his proposed inflation goal at its next meeting in January.

"If unfortunately it refuses to agree to it, we have to amend the BoJ law, reach an accord (between the government and the bank) and we will have the policy," he said.

AAP reports the Bank of Japan Act, spells out the central bank's duties and guarantees its independence.

The act also says the bank should work with the government to make sure "its currency and monetary control and the basic stance of the government's economic policy shall be mutually compatible".

Mr Abe also said the BoJ should be held responsible for expanding employment, a point he stressed during the recent election campaign.

The leader of the conservative Liberal Democratic Party is expected to take office on Wednesday, following a landslide victory in national elections last Sunday.

Abe has already criticised the bank for not doing more to stoke Japan's economy. The market has welcomed his rhetoric, boosting the Nikkei index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange in recent weeks.

AAP reports the Bank of Japan policy board met on Thursday and expanded an existing asset-buying program to pump money into the market, but kept interest rates unchanged at between 0 - 0.1%.

Governor Masaaki Shirakawa said on Thursday the board would review its gial of 1% inflation, but made no direct mention of a 2% inflation target.