BOJ's Kataoka warns against premature exit from easy policy

OKAYAMA, Japan, March 1 (Reuters) - Bank of Japan board member Goushi Kataoka on Thursday cautioned against a premature exit from the BOJ's ultra-loose monetary policy and called for a ramping up of the bank's massive stimulus program.

"The inflation environment in Japan differs substantially from that in the United States and major countries in Europe," Kataoka said in a speech to business leaders in Okayama, western Japan.

"I believe that, in Japan, there is still a long way to go before considering a change in monetary policy stance," he said.

Since joining the board in July, Kataoka has been the sole dissenter to the BOJ's decisions to keep monetary policy steady on the view it must do more to achieve its 2 percent inflation target by the projected timeframe of around March 2020. (Reporting by Leika Kihara; Editing by Chris Gallagher)