TOKYO, Sept 15 (Reuters) – Taro Kono, a leading candidate in Japan’s ruling party leadership race, said on Wednesday the central bank must maintain its ultra-loose monetary policy to cushion the economic blow from the coronavirus pandemic, Jiji news agency reported.

“As Japan is still suffering from the pandemic, the Bank of Japan has little choice but to continue its accomodative policy,” Kono said in a television programme, according to Jiji.

Currently a minister in charge of the country’s vaccination programme, Kono is emerging as a strong favourite to become the next leader of the ruling Liberal Demoratic Party (LDP). The new LDP leader will virtually be assured the premiership given the party’s majority in parliament.

In 2017, Kono urged the Bank of Japan (BOJ) to communicate an exit strategy from the central bank’s ultra-loose policy more clearly.

He has offered few clues on his current stance on BOJ policy, telling a recent news conference that specific monetary policy decisions should be left to the central bank. (Reporting by Leika Kihara; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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