The Bank of Japan (BOJ) on Wednesday kept its massive monetary stimulus intact, as widely expected, reiterating that the world's number three economy is recovering moderately.
By an 8-1 vote at the end of a two-day meeting, policymakers maintained their pledge to boost monetary base by 80 trillion yen a year through purchases of government bonds and risky assets, a quantitative easing (QE) program that's been in place since April 2013.
Board member Takahide Kiuchi was the lone dissenter, proposing that the BOJ slash its asset purchases to 45 trillion yen a year, but was turned down by a majority vote.
Dollar-yen fell on the news, trading at 119.99 from 120.14, while the Nikkei 225 index rose 0.8 percent to a 15-year high of 19,810.
In an accompanying statement, the BOJ said consumer inflation, excluding the sales tax hike that came into effect last year, currently hovers at zero percent and will remain that way for a while on the back of a collapse in oil prices.
The BOJ has a target of boosting consumer inflation to 2 percent by the end of the current fiscal year, a goal that seems ever more remote with consumer prices staying flat after a brief period of rises last year.
Many analysts have tipped the BOJ to expand its QE program to provide further support to economy, which is struggling to recover from a recession last year, but others argue there's a limit to how much monetary stimulus can help.