Japan Inc nervous about charging more for fear of alienating shoppers and losing market share. Traditionally, firms have chosen belt-tightening in the face of rising costs. Premium telescopes, violin bows and speciality paper have had their prices hiked by companies confident they can charge more without losing business.

Vixen Co Ltd, which commands nearly 60% of the local market for astronomy telescopes, plans to increase prices of its best selling lower-end models by as much as 24%. "If costs go up and we don't increase the prices, it will have a big impact on us, so we had to start there," spokesperson Yasuhisa Tsuzuki said.

Tokyo-based Shirakawa Sogyo Co Ltd raised prices of some Swiss-made bows by as much as 36%. A strengthening Swiss franc against the yen has added to the squeeze on already tight profit margins. Now may be an "easier time" to raise prices because costs are generally going up for everyone.

Wholesale inflation rose to a record 9% in November. Core consumer price index ticked up 0.5% from a year earlier, the highest in nearly two years. Goods sold to other businesses are seeing bigger price increases than those sold directly to consumers, according to official data.
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