Noda will call snap poll if Diet OKs sales tax hike


Staff Writer

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Thursday in France that he is willing to dissolve the Lower House and call a snap election provided the Diet first approves a bill to raise the consumption tax.

Noda, in Cannes to attend a Group of 20 summit, also made a pledge to global leaders that he will gradually increase the sales tax from its present 5 percent to 10 percent by the mid-2010s, to bring Japan’s ballooning public debt under control. The government is expected to submit a bill over the tax hike to the Diet in the current fiscal year, which ends March 31.

“Once the legislation is enacted, I would like to seek the people’s judgment (in a general election) before the tax hike is actually implemented,” Noda was quoted as saying in Cannes.

The Liberal Democratic Party, the main opposition force, is meanwhile continuing to press Noda to call an election before his government submits the bill to the Diet.

“The Democratic Party of Japan said when it came to power that it would seek the judgment of the people before the consumption tax is raised, and that is also (Noda’s) position,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said Friday, expressing support for Noda’s stance.

Fujimura also suggested that if the public votes against a tax hike in the next general election, their opinions will likely be reflected in government policy.

“We are talking about something that is still hypothetical, but seeking the nation’s judgment means the public’s voice will be reflected in government policy,” Fujimura said.