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Prime Minister Taro Aso got a little breathing room Friday after the Cabinet approved his modified tax reform bill, which now offers an open-ended clause for a future consumption tax hike, while mending an internal rift over the issue in his Liberal Democratic Party.

After being slammed repeatedly for his policy flip-flopping, Aso this time stood his ground as best he could and said he wanted the 5 percent consumption tax raised in fiscal 2011 if the economy had recovered.

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