The government will call for opinions from experts on the economy in mid-November before deciding whether to raise Japan’s consumption tax rate to 10 percent in October 2015 as planned, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday.
“We will start hearing from experts around the timing of the release of the July-September (gross domestic product) data,” Suga, the government’s top spokesman, said at a press conference. The preliminary GDP data will be released on Nov. 17.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also said during a parliamentary session earlier in the day that he will begin discussions with experts “as soon as possible” and make a final judgment on the tax issue “by the end of this year” after analyzing the GDP data.
The government held a similar panel around one month before Abe formally announced in October last year that it would implement the 3-percentage-point tax increase to 8 percent as scheduled on April 1.
The tax hike is aimed at covering swelling social security costs for Japan’s graying population. The country’s fiscal health is the worst among major developed economies with public debt equivalent to more than 200 percent of GDP.
Tokyo has internationally pledged to carry out the two-stage consumption tax increase to promote fiscal rehabilitation, but some government officials and lawmakers have recently urged Abe to put off the second round with economic data showing the first has significantly stifled domestic demand.
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