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Japan’s various economic chiefs were to meet Wednesday evening to discuss tax reforms, including tax cuts, according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda.

The participants are expected to include Fukuda; Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa; Heizo Takenaka, economic and fiscal policy minister; Takeo Hiranuma, minister of economy, trade and industry; and Toranosuke Katayama, minister of public management, home affairs, posts and telecommunications.

“I believe (Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi) will issue some sort of instructions,” Fukuda, the top government spokesman, told a news conference Tuesday.

Said Koizumi: “Discussions are ongoing. I’ll give instructions when a suitable time for doing so arises.”

Asked whether an outline of the tax reforms would be compiled Wednesday, Koizumi said they would not.

The Liberal Democratic Party has been calling for tax cuts in the current fiscal year to boost the economy.

Tax cut proponents feel they should be a major pillar in a second package of measures touted to fight deflation that will be compiled by the government in the middle of the month.

Asked whether Koizumi will call for tax cuts of this kind, Fukuda was noncommittal, except to say, “The idea is to map out a direction, including that point.”

Shiokawa said at a separate news conference he will call for tax cuts to spur corporate investment.

“It depends on what the prime minister’s decision will be,” he said.

“I will of course suggest such steps as investment tax cuts.

“The prime minister may say that is necessary, but on the other hand, he may say that is not needed.”

Pressure on Koizumi

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is expected to call for another package of measures to counter the nation’s prolonged deflationary trend, economics minister Heizo Takenaka said Tuesday.

“I think the prime minister will give us instructions after a medium- and long-term policy framework is adopted,” Takenaka, state minister in charge of economic and fiscal policy, told reporters.

The Liberal Democratic Party is urging the government to come up with another antideflation package, after the first, unveiled in late February, turned out to be more suggestive than substantive.

The Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, which is chaired by Koizumi, is scheduled to adopt a policy framework, including tax reforms, in the middle of this month.

Takenaka’s remarks indicate Koizumi will instruct ministries and agencies to work on the second set of antideflation measures after the council adopts the policy framework.

Takenaka said the package is expected to include a plan to create a special zone in Japan where drastic deregulation measures would take place exclusively.

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