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Finance Minister Hiroshi Mitsuzuka announced Oct. 17 his opposition to the idea of issuing special bonds with tax benefits to help dispose of the huge debts left behind by the Japanese National Railways.Mitsuzuka said a bond-issue would run counter to the principle of fairness in taxation. Taxes needed to be levied fairly and neutrally and from that viewpoint, the issue of such bonds — as suggested by some members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party — would be difficult, he told a news conference.The Finance Ministry maintains that these bonds would only be purchased by the wealthy and would lead to a loss of tax revenue. It was decided Oct. 16 to set up four teams to hold intensive one-week discussions over individual issues related to the settling of 28 trillion yen in debts left after the privatization of JNR.Key members of the prime minister’s Conference on Fiscal Structural Reform agreed the teams should study matters such as the transfer of funds from the postal savings special account, a reduction in accumulated interest and pension payments, issuance of tax-free bonds to help repay the debts and the utilization of funding sources currently used for purposes such as road construction.

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