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Japan’s Price Declines Ease as BOJ Heads for Policy Review

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(Bloomberg) — Declines in Japan’s key inflation gauge eased in January after rising coronavirus cases forced the government to suspend a tourism discount program that has hit prices for months.

Consumer prices excluding fresh food fell 0.6% from a year earlier, improving from a 1% drop in December that was the steepest in a decade, the ministry of internal affairs reported Friday. The result matched the median forecast from economists, with the drop moderating before next month’s Bank of Japan policy review.

Prices actually gained once energy costs were also excluded from the calculation. That, combined with the smaller drop in the core index, supports BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda’s view that recent price…

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