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Abe, opposition face off over economy

by Ayako Mie

Staff Writer

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe boasted Wednesday that the aggressive economic measures of his first four months in office have helped the economy, but opposition leaders countered during Diet debate that “Abenomics” won’t push up wages and increase consumption.

In the first one-on-one debate with opposition party leaders since his inauguration in December, Abe pointed out that confidence among small and midsize businesses is as high as it’s been in 20 years, bringing wage increases for part-time workers.

“It’s wrong to think that doing nothing reduces risk. Not taking action actually creates risk. We have already changed the gloomy sentiment,” Abe said in response to Democratic Party of Japan President Banri Kaieda, who asked how buoyed investor sentiment can push up wages. “We’ve already done something that the DPJ could not do in three years and three months.”

Abe’s comments came a day after the Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito ruling bloc got the fiscal 2013 budget through the Lower House, ensuring its Diet passage by May 15.

Your Party leader Yoshimi Watanabe said the government should be cautious about hiking the sales tax next April, saying wages may not have increased enough to endure the increase.

“You cannot rely on economic business confidence indicators from April to June this year to predict wage increases for next year,” Watanabe said.