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Laundry detergent evolves to beat Japan's deflation

Timesaving products show how added value can push up average prices

While prices of most consumer goods have fallen in Japan in recent years, those of laundry detergent have increased by 2.7% annually.  (Photo by Nozomu Ogawa)

TOKYO -- With the Bank of Japan's efforts to stoke inflation suffering yet another setback this month, Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda may be ready to turn to unconventional means. He could do worse than to look for inspiration on his next trip to a laundromat.

Retail prices of laundry detergents have risen 14% over the past five years, despite the intense competition in the market for daily necessities.

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