A close aide to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday hinted at the possibility that the planned consumption tax hike to 10 percent from 8 percent in October could be delayed, depending on a key economic indicator to be released for June.

If the Bank of Japan's tankan survey of business sentiment for June "shows a risky outlook," Koichi Hagiuda, executive acting secretary-general of Abe's Liberal Democratic Party, said during an online TV program. "We would not take the people toward a cliff. There could be a different development."

Abe has twice pushed back a plan to raise the consumption tax to 10 percent after the previous hike to 8 percent from 5 percent in 2014.