The fiscal 2014 budget — the largest in history at ¥95.88 trillion — was passed by the Upper House on Thursday with support from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito bloc.
The budget’s enactment will allow the government to start implementing it on April 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year, with no delay.
The Abe administration was pushing for early enactment as the budget includes various measures to cushion the impact of the consumption tax hike scheduled for April 1.
The budget will also allow the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to focus on more controversial issues during the ongoing Diet session through mid-June, most notably those involving Abe’s push to change the official interpretation of the pacifist Constitution so that Japan can exercise the right of collective self-defense under the United Nations charter.
A key advisory panel on security issues had planned to submit its final report to the prime minister next month. Abe is expected to use it as the basis for his argument for reinterpreting the Constitution.
But many lawmakers in both the LDP and New Komeito have begun calling on the administration to shelve the controversial plan, and whether Abe will have the panel draw up the report as scheduled has become the focus of attention among political insiders.
The speed of the budget enactment was the third fastest in postwar history, reflecting Abe’s potent power base in the Diet. His ruling bloc now occupies an overwhelming majority in both chambers.
Major opposition forces, including the Democratic Party of Japan, Your Party, Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) and Yuinotoh, all voted against the budget.
Of the ¥95.88 trillion budget, spending for rapidly growing social security areas accounted for 31.8 percent, exceeding the ¥30 trillion level for the first time.
Meanwhile, public works expenditures grew by 12.9 percent to ¥5.97 trillion, reflecting Abe’s aggressive spending policy to prop up the economy, which remains in a long-standing slump.
The budget was funded by issuing government bonds totaling a staggering ¥41.2 trillion, which accounted for as much as 43 percent of the government’s total revenue.
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