• Kyodo


The government is discussing welfare and stimulus measures aimed at promoting economic growth ahead of the Group of Seven summit in May.

“It is extremely important to present a solid road map toward achieving the ¥600 trillion economy,” when the G-7 economies are being looked to for strong commitment and policy coordination amid an uncertain economic outlook, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

At a meeting of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy on Monday, the prime minister instructed ministers to formulate “bold and convincing measures” to be included in a fiscal and economic blueprint to be compiled in or around June.

His remarks came after private-sector members of the government panel called it an “extremely important challenge” for Japan as the chair of this year’s G-7 summit to exert leadership on sustainable global growth.

The members — drawn from academic and business circles — called for measures to spur consumption and increase disposable income through tax breaks and other measures ahead of a planned hike in consumption tax in April 2017.

It remains uncertain whether the government will go ahead with the increase to 10 percent from the current 8 percent, amid weak consumption and low wage growth. A previous hike in April 2014 stunted demand.

Abe is likely to make a decision after assessing GDP for January to March. The figures will be released in May.

He will also take into consideration the discussions at the G-7 summit.

Steps the members proposed include wage increases for child care workers, the distribution of shopping coupons for local use and improvements in infrastructure that could lure more foreign tourists.

On tourism, they proposed boosting landing slots at regional airports for low cost airlines and at ports for cruise ships.

They called for lifting the minimum wage to ¥1,000 per hour as soon as possible and making legal adjustments to ensure that workers receive equal pay for equal work.

Abe has pledged to lift GDP by around 20 percent from the current level, to ¥600 trillion by around 2020.

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