Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki indicated Tuesday that an increase in the consumption tax will be considered as an option to cope with the nation’s swelling social security costs.

“We must promote discussions on how broadly (the public) will share social security spending, which tends to expand as the population ages,” Tanigaki said, “In this process, the consumption tax should naturally be taken up, and I think the prime minister shares such a view.”

Tanigaki made the comments a day after Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told the Diet that using the consumption tax would “naturally become a subject for discussion” on ways to finance an expected increase in pension, nursing care and other social welfare programs.

Koizumi has said he would not raise the consumption tax — currently 5 percent — while he is in office but would not oppose discussing the issue. He is expected to serve until September 2006, when his term as president of the Liberal Democratic Party ends.

Tanigaki meanwhile said he believes the stance on foreign exchange of the Group of Seven major economies has remained unchanged since they last met in Boca Raton, Fla., last February.

Foreign exchange is expected to be high on the agenda when finance ministers and central bank governors from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States meet in London on Feb. 4 and 5.

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