The Bank of Japan – barring the odd market intervention – does not surprise the markets. It has been the benchmark of Haruhiko Kuroda's tenure as governor – a tenure that has seen the yen tumble from its record high versus the dollar.
On Tuesday morning there were no surprises. Apart from a slight change in nuance on inflation expectations, which some regarded as faintly hawkish, the message at the post-policy meeting press conference remained overwhelmingly dovish.
Yet, given the blossoming recovery in economic growth, some – undeniably small – signs of reinflation and a tightening labour market, Kuroda could have equally been a lot more bullish without surprising the market.
Rob Carnell, chief Asia economist at ING, says: "BoJ watchers had imagined there might be some clue or even a vague hint of future policy change at the BoJ conference.
"But instead, Governor Kuroda stuck very firmly to the message that nothing is going to change anytime soon."
Let's look at the facts: gross domestic product growth rose for its seventh-consecutive quarter in the July-September period at an annual pace of 2.1%.
The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday raised its estimates on Japanese growth for 2018 and 2019 – yet the Bank of Japan maintained its growth projection at 1.4% for fiscal 2017.
Inflation has been creeping higher: core consumer prices rose at an annual pace of 0.9% in November and are expected to remain at this level in December. The BoJ believes they will reach 1.4% in 2018 and will reach its 2% target by the end of fiscal 2019.
Yen strength a guide
Recent yen strength suggests the market was prepared for some tightening of policy – if not at least some indication that policy will be tightened in the not too distant future.
No mention. The one concession to the monetary hawks was that mention of "falling" inflationary expectations was replaced by the notion that inflationary expectations were "skewed to the downside". That's still a fairly dovish message.
Successive BoJ governors have attempted to lift inflationary expectations. Until you can get inflation to the point where people expect that prices will go up – prices will not go up.
Instead, if they believe they can buy things cheaper at a later date, they'll continue to put off buying them until prices fall.
Such has been Japan's collective mindset for more than two decades.
The BoJ has also had to deal with periods of rapid currency appreciation.
Japan's fiscal prudence has ensured its government bonds have been regarded among the world's safest assets for many years. So much so, Japan has often been regarded as a haven during times of market and geopolitical turbulence.
Japan's government has been one of the most active currency manipulators in modern history – although its authorities would not use such a politically-sensitive term.
The rapid appreciations in the yen seen during the financial crisis, European debt crisis and in the wake of the 2011 earthquake, justified market intervention to quell the economic impact on an export-led economy of such volatile upward price movements.
And even though currency appreciation often drives inflation, that was not the case in Japan, where it merely drove expansion in foreign investment – Japan's population of savers became international investors, able to buy more abroad with their inflated yen.
This exacerbated the BoJ's problems during turbulent times, as the yen was boosted by Japanese foreign investors looking to repatriate their cash.
And it appears to be rooted in these historical actions why the BoJ remains so dovish, when other major central banks showing upward of 2% annual growth are starting to attract the hawks.
Jane Foley, currency strategist at Rabobank, says: "It would appear hasty and foolhardy for the BoJ to risk crushing tentative signs of inflation by withdrawing policy stimulus too early."
In fact, Kuroda is tempting inflation to overshoot the official 2% target, Foley suggests. Given Japan's disinflationary history, it wouldn't be a surprise.
Foley says: "The BoJ has fought a long and hard battle against deflationary risk and the disinflationary mindset. For this reason, the BoJ adheres to a commitment to overshoot its 2% price stability target.
"Through this commitment, the Bank aims to enhance the credibility of achieving 2% among the public which it hopes will help feed a pro-inflationary cycle."
This doesn't necessarily mean the current dovishness is an act - it merely suggests that Kuroda can afford to be sure on inflation. Even if it overshoots, there'll be few recriminations as it will be new territory for the Bank to deal with.
Of course, by then it may well be the problem of a new governor – certainly new deputies – as the BoJ goes through a leadership change in April. Analysts see few risks in the new appointments and suspect that Kuroda will be reappointed as governor.
Other risks on the horizon include any threats – economic or geopolitical – to the outlook for global growth, particularly in the US and China.