National / Politics

Abe says double election not necessarily in the cards even if tax hike is delayed

JIJI

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said he will not necessarily call a Lower House election even if his government decides to delay an unpopular consumption tax hike planned for Oct. 1.

Speaking before the Lower House’s Committee on Health, Labor and Welfare on Friday, Abe reiterated that there remained no change in the government’s plan to raise the consumption tax rate from 8 percent to 10 percent as planned, noting that nothing short of a financial calamity as devastating as the 2008 global financial crisis, triggered by the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers, would justify postponing the hike yet again.

Abe was answering a question from Yuichiro Tamaki, head of the opposition Democratic Party for the People.

The tax must be raised in order to strengthen Japan’s social security net, improve fiscal soundness and maintain confidence in the country, Abe said.

Asked how the government would respond in the event of a major financial crisis, the prime minister refused to be drawn into the topic, saying that he would make the appropriate decision if that happened.

Tamaki said the Japanese economy’s future course is extremely uncertain, to which Abe noted the country’s strong economic fundamentals, which support domestic demand, pointing to improvements in employment and the environment for rising incomes.

Abe said that in steering the economy the government will work hard to ascertain the impact of factors in the global economy, including developments on trade issues and the future of the Chinese economy.

Tamaki later told reporters that if the tax hike is delayed, the Abe Cabinet should resign en masse to take responsibility — not call an election.

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