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Right up to the last minute, two conflicting philosophies dominated the ruling coalition’s debate on tax reform for fiscal 2002 — whether to levy taxes wherever possible to help ease the government’s dire financial straits or avoid major hikes in light of the economic slump.

The latter argument appears to have won out, as the package finalized Friday by the Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito and the New Conservative Party apparently contains only minor revisions unlikely to affect the economy for better or worse.

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