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Masaaki Honma, a professor at Osaka University who has been tapped to take over as chairman of the government’s tax panel next month, indicated Friday he will consider recommending corporate tax cuts to help the government’s progrowth economic policies.

Although he has yet to be formally named, Honma, 62, spoke out on the tax issue.

He declined to take a public position on the consumption tax, saying only, “I don’t have any preset ideas.”

The government plans to shelve debate on the consumption tax until next fall, fearing talk of a rise could hurt the Liberal Democratic Party’s prospects in the Upper House election next July.

Honma, who currently serves as acting chairman of the Fiscal System Council, spoke at a news conference after the council meeting.

“It is a fact that Japan has been left behind in the global reform of corporate taxation systems,” Honma said, adding the government needed to squarely address the issue.

His remarks suggest the Tax Commission, an advisory panel to the prime minister, will consider slashing corporate taxes to strengthen the international competitiveness of Japanese companies.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has stressed the importance of high economic growth, in contrast to his predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, who focused on improving state finances through structural reforms.

After the news conference, Honma told reporters he was asked informally to serve as the next tax panel chief and accepted the government’s offer.

He is expected to assume the post on Nov. 7.

Honma’s likely appointment comes as a surprise. Speculation had been rife that former Chairman Hiromitsu Ishi, 69, would be reappointed as head of the panel for a third three-year term.

Ishi, an economics professor at Chuo University in Tokyo, has been a longtime advocate of tax hikes to shore up state finances.

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