Japan's core consumer price index (CPI) rose 1.3 percent in February from a year earlier for the ninth straight month of expansion due to higher prices of energy and certain home appliances, the government said Friday. The increase of core CPI, which excludes volatile fresh foods, followed a 1. 3 percent rise in January and December, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. The gain was largely attributed to rising gasoline, electricity and gas prices, the ministry said. Japan's energy costs rose in the wake of the weaker yen and growing need for fossil fuel to substitute for nuclear power generation following the March 2011 radiation crisis in Fukushima. The ministry also pointed out that prices of home appliances and consumer durables, such as air conditioners, washing machines, laptop computers and televisions, also pushed up the core CPI. Consumers are on a spending spree ahead of the planned sales tax hike on April 1, from the current 5 percent to 8 percent. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration has placed a priority on revitalizing the world's third-largest economy by beating prolonged deflation that has lasted for nearly 15 years. Abe has promoted ambitious economic policies dubbed "Abenomics," which focus on drastic monetary easing by the Bank of Japan (BOJ), massive government spending and growth strategy. In April 2013, the BOJ launched an aggressive monetary stimulus to achieve the 2 percent inflation target in fiscal 2015. Meanwhile, Japan's jobless rate fell to 3.6 percent in February, the lowest level since July 2007, separate data released on Friday from the ministry showed.