By Yoshifumi Takemoto and Kantaro Komiya

TOKYO (Reuters) – Core consumer prices in Tokyo, considered a leading indicator of Japanese price trends, rose 1.9% in April from a year earlier, marking the fastest annual pace in seven years, government data showed on Friday.

The increase in inflation, driven mostly by energy costs and the dissipating effect of past cellphone fee cuts, underscores a common view among economists that Japan will see price rises accelerate to around the central bank’s 2% target in coming months.

The rise in the Tokyo core consumer price index (CPI) was faster than a median market forecast for a 1.8% gain and followed a 0.8% increase for March. The index excludes fresh food, which is a volatile factor, but includes energy items.

The Bank of Japan (BOJ) last week raised its forecast for this year’s inflation rate but kept its ultra-loose monetary policy unchanged, stressing its resolve to maintain massive stimulus until inflationary pressures were accompanied by wage rises and stronger demand.

(Reporting by Yoshifumi Takemoto and Kantaro Komiya; Editing by Bradley Perrett and Sam Holmes)