Abe rebuffed the view the Bank of Japan's 2 percent inflation target was too ambitious for a country mired in two decades of deflation, saying the central bank's commitment and actions to hit the target had helped revive the economy.
BOJ Deputy Governor Kikuo Iwata said on Wednesday the central bank must maintain its "powerful" monetary easing with inflation still distant from its 2 percent target.
Koichi Hamada, an emeritus professor of economics at Yale University, praised Governor Haruhiko Kuroda, who is widely expected to be asked to stay on after his five-year term ends in April, but said there were other well-qualified individuals who could take up the reins.
In a statement released following the conclusion of its two-day meeting, the BOJ said it would keep the deposit rate unchanged at negative 0.1 percent and the 10-year yield target around 0 percent.
Economists project the Bank of Japan will keep its short-term interest rate at minus 0.1 percent and the 10-year government bond yield target at around zero percent next week, the poll showed.
The BOJ maintained the size of its buying in one- to three-, three- to five-, and five- to ten-year Japanese government bonds at 250 billion yen ($2.24 billion), 300 billion yen and 410 billion yen respectively.
Traders appeared to latch on to the BOJ announcement that it will buy less of the long-dated bonds, sending the dollar down about 0.5 percent against the yen and the longer dated 20- and 40-year bond yields up to their highest in a month.
While the bond-buying operations are usually seen as a routine affair, traders appeared to latch on to the BOJ announcement that it will buy less of the long-dated bonds, sending the dollar down about 0.5 percent against the yen.
If the outlook for prices and the economy is expected to improve the BOJ will need to consider whether "adjustments in the level of interest rates will be necessary," one board member said.
"A few members said taking extreme monetary easing steps only to achieve the price goal ... could prevent monetary accommodation from producing intended policy effects," the minutes showed.
Spot gold was up 0.3 percent at $1,278.06 per ounce at 0252 GMT, after hitting its highest since Dec. 1 at $1,279.05.
The general-account budget spending for the next fiscal year starting April will total 97.7 trillion yen ($860 billion), the biggest amount ever and slightly more than this year's initial plan to spend 97.5 trillion yen, the Ministry of Finance said.
The central bank revised up its assessment of private consumption and capital expenditure, underscoring its conviction that recovery in the world's third largest economy was gathering momentum.
The combination of steady growth and benign consumer prices mean the Bank of Japan will lag other major central banks in exiting crisis-era monetary stimulus, with analysts widely expecting BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda to keep the liquidity tap wide open at a meeting later this week.
BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda may signal at his post-meeting news conference that the central bank could raise its yield targets or slow down asset purchases - but only when inflation expectations heighten or the cost of stimulus outweighs the benefits.
Kataoka, the sole dissenter to last month's decision to keep monetary policy steady, said it was premature to debate an exit strategy from its massive stimulus programme, according to the interview by Sankei.
The Reuters Tankan, which tracks the Bank of Japan's closely-watched tankan quarterly survey, also found service-sector firms' sentiment edging up, a further sign of broadening recovery.
Kuroda embarked on an unprecedented burst of monetary stimulus since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe handpicked him a few months after he swept to power in December 2012, pledging to pull Japan out of nearly two decades of stagnation and deflation.
"What's important is for inflation to accelerate, which would give (the BOJ) quite some flexibility in guiding monetary policy," Ito, a Columbia University professor, told a seminar in Tokyo.
But new board member Goushi Kataoka dissented from the BOJ board's decision to maintain its interest rate targets, arguing that the BOJ should buy government bonds so that 15-year JGB yields would remain at less than 0.2 percent.
Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda is also likely to stress that the bank is nowhere near dialing back its massive stimulus programme, with inflation distant from its 2 percent target.
With inflation far below a 2 percent target, the BOJ rules out any near-term exit from Kuroda's legacy ultra-easy policy.
Companies surveyed by the Bank of Japan expect consumer prices to rise 0.7 percent a year from now, lower than their projection for a 0.8 percent increase three months ago.
Kuroda also defended the BOJ's 2 percent inflation target, considered by many analysts as too ambitious, saying the bank can help keep long-term currency moves stable by setting its price goal at a level equivalent to other central banks.
But new board member Goushi Kataoka dissented to the BOJ's decision to maintain its interest rate targets, saying current monetary policy was insufficient to push inflation up to 2 percent during fiscal 2019.