Japanese consumer prices fell for the 15th straight month in May as deflation kept its grip on the world's second biggest economy.
The core consumer price index, which excludes fresh food, fell 1.2 percent from a year earlier, the government said Friday.
The result beat Kyodo news agency's average market forecast for a 1.3 percent decline. It also represents an improvement from April's 1.5 percent fall, suggesting price declines may be moderating as Japan's economy benefits from a jump in exports.
Data Thursday showed that exports expanded 32.1 percent in May thanks to brisk global demand for cars and high-tech products. That is gradually leading to improvements in jobs, wages and prices in Japan.
Earlier this month, the Bank of Japan's predicted that the decline in CPI is expected to slow in the months ahead.
The government's new high school tuition breaks weighed heavily on prices in May, dragging education costs down 13 percent during the month. Falling prices for furniture, household goods and clothes also dragged the index south.
Lower prices may boost individual purchasing power, but deflation is generally bad for an economy. It plagued Japan during its "Lost Decade" in the 1990s, hampering growth by depressing company profits, sparking wage cuts and causing consumers to postpone purchases. It also can increase debt burdens.
Core CPI for Tokyo fell 1.3 percent in June. The reading is considered a barometer of price trends nationwide, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.
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