• Kyodo


The ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Tuesday officially pledged to cut the consumption tax on daily necessities by fiscal 2017 in a bid to ease the impact of another hike planned for April that year.

The party also promised that it would not delay the consumption tax hike to 10 percent from 8 percent again, after announcing last week a delay to April 2017.

The measures are included in a package of pledges comprising the party’s election campaign platform in the upcoming Lower House election.

The LDP said it would accelerate discussions on which items should be subject to the reduced rate of sales tax and how to make up the loss in revenue.

“Wages will certainly rise and people’s livelihoods will improve,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the LDP president, assured those attending a meeting of local chapter executives at the party headquarters in Tokyo.

In foreign policy, the platform says the party hopes to improve diplomatic relationships with China and South Korea.

The LDP will also maintain its contentious stance to seek the resumption of nuclear power plants, stating that atomic power is an important base load energy source, according to the platform.

Abe also reiterated his commitment to continuing his “Abenomics” economic policies, among which are measures to revitalize regions suffering from depopulation and neglect.

“We have no choice but to pursue this road,” Abe argued.

While the economy has slipped back into recession again despite the government’s pro-growth policies and the central bank’s massive monetary easing, an LDP brochure handed out to reporters touted some of the positive economic signs that have come to pass since Abe took office in December 2012. The brochure included data on jobs, tourism, Japan’s infrastructure exports and women’s empowerment.

In announcing the platform, LDP policy chief Tomomi Inada said at a separate news conference that the party hopes to show “voters how far the Japanese economy has come on the back of Abenomics,” and that the LDP will aim to “spread its positive effects to smaller companies and nonurban areas.”

The party also vowed to support the Bank of Japan’s monetary policies, and to cut the 35 percent effective corporate tax rate to below 30 percent within a few years.

The policy platform contained plans to implement economy-boosting measures for the current fiscal year through March and achieve the goal of raising the nation’s inflation rate to 2 percent through the promotion of bold monetary policy — a target that has so far proven difficult for the central bank to realize.

On a cut in the number of Lower House seats, the party will “respect a report” by a third-party body to discuss the matter, the platform said.

A key component of the platform involves a promise to implement regulatory reforms in industries long seen as untouchable — the medical and agricultural sectors — where vested interests hold sway.

Steps to boost housing investment will also be introduced by providing government subsidies for energy-saving equipment.

The LDP also says it will boost measures to help ease the burden on working women, such as child rearing services, both in quality and quantity, according to the platform.

Abe dissolved the Lower House last week to call an election on Dec. 14 as a referendum for his economic policy, which features ultraeasy monetary policy, fiscal stimulus and regulatory reform.

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