Japan Tobacco Inc. said Wednesday it has sought the first reduction in the purchasing price of leaf tobaccos in seven years.

JT has asked the Leaf Tobacco Deliberative Council, an advisory panel to JT President Katsuhiko Honda, to propose lowering the per-kilogram purchase price of leaf tobacco that will be produced next year by 1.87 percent to 1,880.98 yen from the current 1,916.77 yen.

The advisory council consists of 11 members, including representatives of the tobacco farming industry and experts.

The request was made in light of the nation’s economic conditions and is not directly related to the government’s plan to raise the tobacco tax, a JT spokesman said.

JT and three industry groups launched a campaign opposing the tax hike plan on Oct. 15, collecting signatures at some 200,000 tobacco stores nationwide and over the Internet.

On Tuesday, the government’s Tax Commission called on Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to consider the possibility of raising taxes on tobacco as part of a tax reform plan for fiscal 2003.

JT was privatized in April 1985, although the government still owns more than 60 percent of the company.

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