Consumer minister eyes price tags amid tax hike

JIJI

Consumer affairs minister Masako Mori warned against price gouging after the consumption tax was hiked to 8 percent from 5 percent Tuesday.

“The Consumer Affairs Agency will strive to ensure that prices are properly indicated and that the consumption tax is reflected (in prices) appropriately,” Mori told reporters after visiting an Ito-Yokado Co. store in Koto Ward, Tokyo.

Mori visited the first floor, where food and daily necessities are sold, accompanied by Ito-Yokado President Atsushi Kamei.

The minister said she checked the price tags on shoes and other products to make sure they clearly indicated two prices — one including and one excluding the new tax.

At a news conference, Finance Minister Taro Aso said he bought at the higher tax rate a comic book and a bottle of mineral water at a convenience store in the morning.

He said when making his purchases he felt “relieved” that the 8 percent tax had finally taken off. The comic he bought, from the popular “Golgo 13″ series about a professional assassin, was ¥400 plus ¥32 in tax, according to Aso.

In the small hours of Tuesday, staff from East Japan Railway Co., or JR East, uncovered new fare tables at Shinjuku Station in Tokyo. Some commuters were seen looking them over to confirm the new fares.

A man buying cigarettes at a convenience store inside the station complained about the cost.

“The price rose ¥20 from yesterday (per pack),” Shiro Sato, 64, said. “It’s too expensive, isn’t it?”

Some public transportation service operators suffered from problems associated with fare revisions.

Keihin Kyuko Bus Co., which operates buses mainly in eastern Japan, overcharged passengers on some routes because of a data-handling mistake on its fare management system. Some buses applied new fares Monday, the day before the actual tax hike occurred.

At Nagoya Railroad Co., 146 ticket vending machines at 95 stations temporarily malfunctioned in the morning due to a programming error.