New economy minister Kaoru Yosano said Tuesday that he wants cross-party talks on tax reforms and the future of the social security system as early as June, while new industry minister Banri Kaieda said Prime Minister Naoto Kan should call a general election if he plans to raise the consumption tax via the reforms.
Yosano also said the Democratic Party of Japan-led government should outline the planned reforms by June and inform the opposition parties, which control the Upper House and have urged Kan to make public his administration’s plans.
The proposal by Yosano, an independent who was named to the Cabinet on Friday as economic and fiscal policy minister, appears at odds with Kan’s position. The prime minister earlier said he would aim to reach a conclusion in June after holding talks with opposition parties.
“We aim to draw up the Cabinet’s proposal by June,” Yosano, who until last year belonged to the Liberal Democratic Party, told reporters. “It is understandable that opposition parties say they can’t talk without a proposal” from the government in hand, he added, suggesting the cross-party talks would not be held until June or later.
In a separate news conference, Kaieda, the minister of economy, trade and industry, said Kan should call a general election if the administration plans to push for a consumption tax hike.
“If the government wants to raise the consumption tax . . . dissolve (the Lower House) to seek voters’ understanding,” Kaieda said. “That’s the way things should be.”
Kaieda, who was economy minister until Kan reshuffled the Cabinet on Friday, also said raising the 5 percent consumption tax should wait until after the economy has established itself on an autonomous recovery course and deflation has ended.
Koichiro Genba, national policy minister, told reporters the government will hold a meeting of ministers Wednesday to discuss the reforms, a key issue for Kan.
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