Japan consumer prices edge up 0.9% in March

Tokyo (AFP) –


Japan's consumer prices edged up 0.9 percent in March, government data showed Friday, but inflation was slightly weaker than the previous month and still far below a longstanding target.

Japan has notched up eight straight quarters of economic growth -- the longest positive run since the "bubble" boom days of the late 1980s.

But it has struggled to achieve the 2.0 percent inflation rate thought crucial to boosting the world's third-largest economy.

Government data released Friday showed the core inflation rate, which excludes volatile fresh food prices, stood at 0.9 percent in March, down from 1.0 percent in the previous month.

That was in line with market expectations.

With fresh food and energy stripped out, prices rose by even less -- just 0.5 percent in March, the ministry said.

Japan has battled deflation for many years and the central bank's ultra-loose monetary policy appears to be having limited impact.

The Bank of Japan (BoJ) has signalled it has no plans to drop the policy, despite moves in that direction in other major economies

Earlier this month, BoJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said it would take time to extricate Japan from this policy as he embarked on a new five-year term.