Tokyo

Prices in Japan fell by 0.4% for the third month in a row in July - a fifth consecutive month of deflation as the government continues the battle to get inflation moving again.

Official figures show that core consumer prices, which exclude the often volatile food prices, were down 0.5% on July last year.

The figures are worse than expected and come just weeks after data showed the economy wasn't growing as fast as expected, either.

There is no even more pressure on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He may have played the part of Mario at the closing ceremony of the Rio Olympics at the start of the week, but he needs to fix the economy's plumbing sooner rather than later.

In July, Mr Abe announced a new, mammoth £200 billion stimulus package, designed to boost inflation and consumer spending.

Bar a handful of months, Japan has battled low inflation since the turn of the Millennium. And that's not good for an economy around 60% reliant on consumer spending. To the ordinary member of the public, deflation is good. It means falling prices. But for an economy built on spending, it can be very bad news. If you, as a consumer, are pretty certain prices are going to be lower in a few months time, you're probably going to wait until then to make a purchase, especially bigger ones like furniture or appliances. And that results in reduced spending.

Like the UK, Japan's central bank has an inflation target of 2%. But Shinzo Abe's brand on economics - dubbed 'Abenomics' - is showing little effect three years on. In that time, inflation has only been at or above the 2% target for a few months, in 2014, when the Japanese government hiked its tax on retail sales from 5% to 8%, pushing prices up.

Five months of deflation is far from over, according to Capital Economics. Marcel Thieliant, the company's senior economist, said: "As such, inflation expectations may weaken further in coming months.

"The Bank of Japan has recognised that there are considerable risks to its forecast of hitting its 2% inflation target in the coming fiscal year. We therefore continue to expect more stimulus to be introduced at the Bank's September meeting."