TOKYO -- The Bank of Japan faces the tricky decision of whether to loosen monetary policy further at next week's policy board meeting, with some officials hesitant to play the central bank's few remaining cards despite investor hopes and stubbornly weak price growth.
The key question is how to interpret lackluster inflation. The consumer price index excluding fresh food has fallen steadily, moving further away from the 2% growth the BOJ is trying to achieve. This past spring yielded disappointing wage and price hikes. The BOJ plans to cut its inflation outlook for this fiscal year from the current 0.5%.