Japan consumer prices fall 0.1% in April

Japan's consumer price index fell 0.1 percent in April from a year earlier, marking the ninth straight month of decline.

The internal affairs ministry says a factor in that drop is cheaper cell phone plans that carriers rolled out at the government's urging. Communication fees dropped by 26.5 percent in the biggest reduction since comparative data began being kept in 2001. Officials at the ministry say cell phone charges will likely continue pulling down consumer prices for a while.

A rise in crude oil prices pushed up the cost of gasoline by 13.5 percent. Accommodations rose 3.1 percent, rebounding from a huge drop in April last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The index doesn't include fresh food. The year-on-year change has been at zero or in negative territory since April of last year.