No new tax hikes: Mitsuzuka

There will be no additional increases in the consumption tax before the government carries out its pledged sweeping administrative and fiscal reforms by 2005, Finance Minister Hiroshi Mitsuzuka implied Mar. 25.

“Taxation must be considered a mid- to long-term issue, and (the government) is currently directing all of its efforts toward carrying out reforms in six sectors by 2005,” the finance chief said. “If we are to push ahead with these reforms by 2005, there can be no debate that puts a possible consumption tax rise within our view (during the years in between),” Mitsuzuka added.

Speaking at a news conference, Mitsuzuka lashed out at media reports the previous day that he made comments taken as implying that the spending tax — which is to rise from 3 percent to 5 percent beginning April 1 — could be raised again. Hashimoto has vowed to carry out his reform package without raising taxes, and the finance chief said he would follow these orders.

On Mar. 24, wire reports said that during a session of a Diet committee, the minister and Nobuaki Usui, director general of the ministry’s Taxation Bureau, made remarks that did not rule out another increase in the tax. The remarks were blamed for the 589.34-point plunge in the benchmark Nikkei average of 225 blue chips on March 24.