Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has reaffirmed his plan to raise the consumption tax in October, but there is growing speculation that he could be forced to postpone the hike to safeguard growth amid a sputtering economy.

Abe told the Diet on Friday that he would raise the tax as scheduled "unless there is an event on a scale similar to the Lehman shock," a reference to one of the triggers of the 2008 global financial crisis.

The government, meanwhile, stressed that the world's third-largest economy is "recovering," defying market expectations that it would stop using the word in its latest monthly report amid weaker production and exports due to China's economic slowdown amid its ongoing trade war with the United States.