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BOJ to keep rates on hold, focus on revising inflation target outlook

Japan's central bank was unlikely to cut interest rates on Tuesday, but would focus on revising the timeframe for reaching inflation targets in the country's moribund economy, an economist told CNBC.

Takuji Okubo, principal and chief economist at Japan Macro Advisors, told CNBC's "The Rundown" that the Bank of Japan could lengthen the time period needed to achieve its 2 percent inflation target, a time when prices remain weak.

Although the central bank has never given a specific date for hitting its inflation target, saying in its September policy statement that it aimed for "the earliest possible time," economists have interpreted that to mean by the end of 2017.

"With the inflation rate currently at zero, I think it is no longer realistic. The BOJ would have to significantly delay its outlook to achieve its inflation target," said Okubo.

The consumer price index (CPI) declined 0.5 percent in September from a year earlier, while so-called core CPI, which excludes fresh food items, also fell 0.5 percent.

The broader economy has also been losing momentum. Industrial output in September was flat, retail sales dropped 1.9 percent on-year and exports fell 6.9 percent from a year earlier, after declining 9.6 percent in August.

Buddhika Weerasinghe | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Meanwhile, Okubo's outlook for the world's third-largest economy for the rest of the year and 2017 was grim.

"I do believe that Abenomics has already failed and the market is starting to be aware of that," the economist said, referring to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's three-year-old suite of economic policies aimed at kickstarting Japan's flagging growth.

Okubo added that the lack of substantial structural reform - the so-called third arrow of Abenomics - meant there was little business confidence in the economy, which would likely hinder investments and consumer spending in the future.

The Japanese government had announced a 28.1 trillion-yen ($265.30 billion) fiscal stimulus package this year, which included public-private partnerships and other non-direct government spending.

In August, Prime Minister Abe's cabinet approved 7.5 trillion yen in spending by the national and local governments and earmarked about 6 trillion yen from the Fiscal Investment and Loan Program as part of the broader fiscal package.

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