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Top members of two powerful business organizations Wednesday poured cold water on a political initiative to issue merchandise coupons to boost consumer spending, urging the government to give top priority to implementing its tax cuts.

The chairmen of the Japan Federation of Employers’ Associations (Nikkeiren) and the Japan Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai) also brushed aside another political call to reduce the consumption tax, saying it would be extremely difficult to increase the politically sensitive duty if needed in the future.

“The government should focus solely on early realization of (corporate and income) tax cuts. I think it’s (technically) difficult to issue coupons,” said Nikkeiren Chairman Jiro Nemoto, who is also chairman of major shipping firm Nippon Yusen K.K.

At a separate press conference, Keizai Doyukai Chairman Jiro Ushio said “The consumption tax rate … should be raised over the long term to gradually shift the tax burden from direct to indirect taxes. I think it would be difficult to raise the consumption tax rate again after lowering it on a temporary basis.”

However, Ushio said the proposed coupon idea may be effective on a municipal government level but that the state government should not be involved.

Political forces centered around Komei Diet members are strongly pushing to issue the expiry-dated coupons as a way to stimulate the economy. Some observers, however, are worried about the possibility of counterfeiters and doubt the coupons will be effective in expanding consumer spending.

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