An advisory panel to the prime minister on tax issues began deliberations Thursday on tax system reforms for fiscal 2001, with its new chairman vowing to overhaul the system to meet emerging challenges in the 21st century.

At the start of Thursday’s meeting, held at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence, Hiromitsu Ishi, president of Tokyo’s Hitotsubashi University, was appointed new chairman of the Tax Commission, succeeding Hiroshi Kato, president of Chiba University of Commerce.

“The nation’s tax system has come to a crucial point due to problems related to the aging population and other issues,” Ishi said in addressing the gathering. “The commission, therefore, should intensify discussions on tax reform based on its midterm report compiled in July.”

The midterm report, submitted to Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori by Kato on July 14, called for a radical overhaul of the tax system based on the basic concept that the current generation should not pass its tax burden onto future generations.

At Thursday’s meeting, Mori urged the panel to hash out recommendations on tax reform for the next century.

The prime minister expressed his intention to pursue his plan to revitalize the nation. The plan centers on four areas, including promoting use of information technology and dealing with the rapidly graying society.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa suggested he may have to ask the blue-ribbon panel to draft radical tax reform plans within its members’ three-year tenure, considering the fiscal problems the government currently faces.

Miyazawa reiterated that the government needs to make further efforts to get rid of its snowballing debt by avoiding the additional issuance of government bonds.

The commission agreed to hold its next session on Oct. 3.

The panel and the tax panel of the Liberal Democratic Party will draw up tax reform packages for the year that begins next April.

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