TOKYO (AP) - Japan's consumer prices unexpectedly rose in July as fuel costs climbed, but the increase is likely temporary, meaning Japan has yet to overcome its protracted deflation.
The nation's core consumer price index, which excludes volatile fresh food prices, edged up 0.1 percent from a year earlier, the government said Friday. Economists had predicted a small decline.
Unusually weak CPI figures in July 2010 also make the latest readings seem stronger than they actually area, the Minister of International Affairs and Communications said, according to Kyodo News agency.
Preliminary CPI for the Tokyo area - considered an indicator of broader price trends for the country - fell 0.2 percent in August.
Deflation is among the pressures weighing on the world's No. 3 economy, which also faces a strong yen and massive recovery costs from the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis.
Earlier this month, the government changed the base year against which CPI is calculated, to 2010 from 2005. The shift resulted in a downward revision of this year's data.
The central bank has said it will keep its key interest rate at virtually zero until prices start rising again. It didn't offer an optimistic assessment after its last policy board meeting earlier this month.
"Apparently it will still take some time to achieve price stability," it said.