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Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2007

Some BOJ policymakers wanted hike in January


Staff writer

Several members of the Bank of Japan Policy Board said in their December meeting the benchmark short-term interest rate should be raised when they met in January, according to minutes of last month's gathering unveiled Tuesday.

Although the Policy Board unanimously decided not to hike the rate in December, the minutes show momentum to do so was growing. The BOJ board, however, decided last week in a 6-3 vote to hold the key overnight lending rate at 0.25 percent.

In the December meeting, one member said the BOJ should raise the rate in January, while others took a more cautious tone and said the rate hike should come in the January meeting or later.

"If the prospects for the economy and prices were more concrete, it would be appropriate to adjust the exceptional and ultralow interest rate at an appropriate time during or after the January meeting," the minutes quoted several members as saying.

Other members wanted to hold off until the economic recovery solidified.

The minutes further showed that a senior Finance Ministry official, who was not named, urged the BOJ not to hike the interest rate because consumption and other economic data were still weak.

The BOJ law stipulates that government officials can attend and provide opinions at Policy Board meetings.

Despite widespread speculation the rate would be raised at the January meeting, ruling party politicians were blunt in opposing such action.



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The Japan Times

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