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Shirakawa Concludes ‘Extreme’ Time With Warning on BOJ Stimulus

Outgoing Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa today concluded what he called an “extreme time” in office with a warning for his successor that increasing the supply of money alone won’t end deflation.

“There is no link between the monetary base and growth in consumer prices,” Shirakawa said in his final press conference in Tokyo. “Monetary policy of course has a role, but it’s necessary for a wide range of institutions to make efforts to boost competitiveness and growth potential.”

Incoming Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said last week he wants to look at additional stimulus “soon,” and academic Kikuo Iwata, taking one of the two deputy positions, has pushed for expanding the supply of money in the economy.

Shirakawa said weakness in the yen -- which has fallen more than 16 percent against the dollar since mid-November in anticipation of greater monetary stimulus -- doesn’t mean the economy has strengthened. He signaled that any attempt to remove the BOJ’s independence may damage trust in the currency.

The former University of Chicago student came under escalating political pressure during his tenure to halt declines in consumer prices.

When asked by a reporter if he would like to come back in another life as a central bank governor, Shirakawa said he “is not thinking that way.” A bird-watching fan, the outgoing governor said he looked forward to enjoying his hobbies.

“I will be absolutely free from tomorrow,” he said. “If I were to describe my time in a few words, I would say it was an extreme five years.”

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