Japan's central bank on Wednesday decided to further ease monetary policy by expanding its asset-purchase program by JPY 10 trillion (USD 126 billion) to JPY 80 trillion (USD 1 trillion) to boost the economy.
At a two-day policy meeting, Bank of Japan (BOJ) Gov. Masaaki Shirakawa and his board colleagues voted unanimously to expand the size of its asset-purchase program by increasing purchase of government bonds from financial institutions and treasury discount bills by JPY 5 trillion (USD 63 billion), respectively, according to a statement issued by the BOJ after the meeting.
The increased purchases of government bonds will be completed by the end of December 2013, while those of treasure bills by the end of June 2013, the BOJ said.
It is the first time since April that the central bank has decided to take additional monetary easing steps, when it boosted its asset buying program by JPY 5 trillion to JPY 70 trillion (USD 884 billion). The BOJ board also kept the unsecured overnight call loan rate on hold at a range of zero percent to 0.
The BOJ expects "today's decision to enhance monetary easing will ensure the return of Japan's economy to a sustainable growth path with price stability," it said.
The central bank downgraded its assessment of the world's third-largest economy, saying that the pick-up in economic activity has come to a pause, reflecting the aforementioned developments in overseas economies. "Japan's economy faces the critical challenge of overcoming deflation and returning to a sustainable growth path with price stability," it noted.
The announcement came after the European and US central banks took similar actions to support their economies. Japanese Finance Minister Jun Azumi welcomed the BOJ's monetary easing step, saying it will support Japan's economy. "The BOJ took more action than we expected," Azumi told reporters.
The decision sent Tokyo stocks up on Wednesday, with the key index gaining 108.44 points, or 1.19 percent, from Tuesday to finish at 9,232.21, the highest closing since May 2. The dollar also rose against the yen to the JPY 79 level following the announcement, compared with JPY 78.74-84 in New York and JPY 78.72-74 in Tokyo at 5 p.m. Tuesday.