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Nearly two-thirds of public against 2017 tax hike: survey

Kyodo

Nearly two in three people, or 64.6 percent, are opposed to the government’s plan to further raise the consumption tax in April next year, according to a new opinion poll by Kyodo News.

The telephone poll, conducted Saturday and Sunday, showed support for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet was 48.4 percent, up 1.7 percentage points from the previous poll in February, while disapproval stood at 39.5 percent.

On the just launched new opposition party, Minshin To (Democratic Party), 67.8 percent of respondents said they did not “hold (great) expectations,” while 26.1 percent said they found the new party “promising.”

The new political group was inaugurated Sunday through the merger of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan and the smaller Ishin no To (Japan Innovation Party).

Abe has so far maintained the timetable for hiking the sales tax on goods and services to 10 percent from the current 8 percent in April next year despite growing concerns that the increase would dampen economic activity.

However, on Friday Abe expressed a willingness to postpone the hike at the last minute dependent on how the economy was doing.

The opinion poll found 44.3 percent of respondents were in favor of a double election, in which the Lower House is dissolved for a general election held simultaneously with a House of Councilors poll this summer, while 41.2 opposed such a move.

There is speculation Abe may do just that, though it has not been confirmed.