* Top govt spokesman says room for carriers to cut fees
* Calls on carriers to 'actively' look for ways to cut
* PM Suga has made carrier fee cuts a policy priority
* Lower charges to push inflation further away from BOJ's
TOKYO, Oct 14 (Reuters) - Japan's government is hoping
mobile phone firms will "actively" consider ways to cut carrier
charges, its top spokesman said, stepping up pressure on the
sector to meet Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's aim of boosting
households' purchasing power.
Cutting carrier fees has been among Suga's policy priorities
since becoming prime minister last month, as he looks to clip
the wings of a highly-protected industry and encourage more
"There's room to cut carrier fees further," Chief Cabinet
Sectretary Katsunobu Kato told a regular news conference on
Wednesday, adding he hopes carriers will "actively come up with
ways to do so."
The remarks came after the Nikkei newspaper reported that
SoftBank Corp is considering a new mobile plan offering
lower cellphone charges.
Analysts say other carriers may follow suit.
While lower fees would benefit consumers, it might prove to
be a double-edged sword for the Bank of Japan's 2% inflation
target, at least until the longer-term boost to consumption
begins to offset the downward pressure from the lower charges.
"Lower cellphone fees would be something similar to tax
breaks for households," said Yoshiki Shinke, chief economist at
Dai-ichi Life Research Institute.
"They may also weigh on prices. But the BOJ has long
detached its policy moves from inflation, so weak prices alone
won't force it to ease monetary policy further," he said.
The BOJ eased policy twice this year to cushion the economic
blow from the coronavirus pandemic. It now focuses on supporting
the economy rather than hitting its 2% inflation target, which
remains elusive despite years of heavy money printing.
Japan's core consumer prices fell 0.4% in August from a year
earlier, the fastest pace in almost four years, as the pandemic
cools demand in the world's third-largest economy.
(Reporting by Leika Kihara and Daniel Leussink; Editing by
Chris Gallagher & Shri Navaratnam)