rime Minister Shinzo Abe stands “utterly neutral” on whether to decide in December to raise the sales tax again next year but he will be very cautious in his decision given the potential blow to the economy, Japan’s economy minister said on Friday.
Economy Minister Akira Amari, speaking to reporters in a group interview after a cabinet reshuffle, said the government is ready to roll out a stimulus package to limit the economic impact if it decides to raise the sales tax next year.
Abe is due to decide in December whether to proceed with a second-stage rise in the sales tax to 10 percent in October 2015 in a bid to rein in Japan’s massive public debt.
April’s rise to 8 percent from 5 percent triggered the biggest contraction in three years in the second quarter, followed by a run of other weak indicators, raising doubts about whether Japan should go ahead with the hike.
“As to what the prime minister is thinking, it’s utterly neutral,” Amari said. “He said no countries have doubled the sales tax rate over a year and a half … I expect that he will make a considerably cautious decision.”
Amari said he expects a very cautious decision, particularly if any risk emerges of the economy relapsing into deflation as that would ruin the very aim of Abe’s reflationary policies known as “Abenomics”.