Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday that the country will start cutting the effective corporate tax rate in fiscal 2015 as part of efforts to encourage foreign investment in the country.
Speaking to reporters in Rome, Abe said he has already instructed Takeshi Noda, the tax policy chief of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party, to make preparations to that goal, long demanded by big business. The Finance Ministry, however, is expected as usual to oppose that goal unless new sources of revenue can be found.
Abe also signalled that his government will accelerate discussions with a tax panel in his Liberal Democratic Party and others to compile an economic blueprint by the end of this month. The new fiscal year begins in April.
On security, Abe repeated his intention to get the Cabinet to simply authorize a reinterpretation of the pacifist Constitution, rather than a more difficult referendum and formal amendment, to legalize the use of collective self-defense, which is banned by war-renouncing Article 9.
“As the government and the ruling parties, we have to decide when we have to,” Abe said, adding he has no intention of keeping the Diet open beyond June 22 to deliberate the controversial issue.
With regard to North Korea’s recent promise to reinvestigate its abductions of Japanese, Abe said he will urge Pyongyang to fulfill its pledge and achieve specific results.
While Japan has signaled it will ease its unilateral sanctions on North Korea once the reclusive country commences the investigation, it has said Pyongyang’s Mangyongbong-92 ferry, the only direct link between the countries until its entry was banned as part of Tokyo’s 2006 sanctions, should not be part of the agreement.
“At this stage, we have no intention of allowing entry” of the vessel to a Japanese port, Abe said.
Japan, which officially lists 17 people as having been abducted by North Korea, suspects Pyongyang’s involvement in many more disappearances. Only five of the 17 and their families have been returned to Japan.
North Korea promised in 2008 to reinvestigate the abduction cases, but that commitment has yet to be fulfilled.
Speculation is rife that Abe may reshuffle his Cabinet sometime this year. Asked about the possibility, however, Abe said, “I’m not considering it at all.”