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© Reuters. Japan's PM Abe address Japan Self-Defense Force's senior members during a meeting at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo© Reuters. Japan’s PM Abe address Japan Self-Defense Force’s senior members during a meeting at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he wants the country’s central bank to focus on monetary policies geared at achieving its 2 percent inflation target, regardless of who becomes the next Bank of Japan governor, the newspaper said on Wednesday.

Abe said he has full trust in BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda as his massive monetary stimulus has buoyed employment and “created a situation where Japan was no longer in deflation.”

“It’s important for Japan to reach a stage where inflation rises above 2 percent and stabilizes at that level,” he told the financial daily in an interview.

“The government expects the BOJ to continue efforts to meet the target,” he said.

Abe declined to comment on who could be the preferred candidate to succeed Kuroda when his five-year term ends in April next year.

He also said there was no change to his plan to raise Japan’s sales tax to 10 percent from 8 percent in October 2019.

Despite more than four years of aggressive money printing, the BOJ has failed to achieve its elusive inflation target as companies and households remain wary of boosting spending.

Critics of Kuroda’s policies have called for lowering the BOJ’s inflation target, arguing that the goal was too high for a country that had been mired in two decades of deflation.

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