The data may also aggravate doubts over the government's wider bid to lift the world's number three economy out of two-decades of stagnation. Sustained inflation is a key measure of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's growth blueprint, dubbed Abenomics, which was set into motion following his late 2012 election victory. The government data on Friday showed that Japan's inflation rate last month came in at 2.2 percent, down from 2.5 percent in December. But stripping out the effect of visit here a sales tax hike last year, it rose just 0.2 percent from a year earlier, the lowest since a zero percent rate in May 2013. The slip makes the Bank of Japan's much-touted 2.0 percent inflation goal -- a cornerstone of Abenomics -- look increasingly unrealistic. View gallery Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda (R) speaks to the press celebrities in Tokyo on February 27, 2015 (AFP Ph Prices had been on the rise, largely due to Japan having to import pricey fossil fuels to plug an energy gap left by the shutdown of atomic reactors in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima accident. But plunging oil prices have dealt another blow to the BoJ's inflation goals, and doubts are growing over the ambitious target -- even among policymakers themselves.
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