A special adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Sunday the 3-point hike in the sales tax next April will cause a drastic decline in consumption and suggested that it instead be raised by 1 point a year for five years.

“The economic structure is not as strong as it seems,” Etsuro Honda, a University of Shizuoka professor, said on an NHK program. The tax hike “will have a great impact on consumption.”

Raising the tax more gradually, however, would “contribute to the leveling” of last-minute demand before the hike and its subsequent fall-off and avoid rapid deceleration in the economy, he said.

Honda, however, did caution against postponing the tax hike at a time when the nation’s debt has just passed ¥1 quadrillion.

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