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A series of fee hikes in October is expected to strain family budgets and dampen consumer spending over a prolonged period at a time when many people are taking pay cuts or hunting for jobs.

Increases in the form of fuel surcharges for air travel, higher health insurance premiums and utility charges, for example, are certain to challenge the government of new Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama as it attempts to pull the economy out of its worst recession since the war.

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