Japan's tax hike-related reward points total ¥6 billion in first week


The industry ministry said Friday that the total amount of reward points related to a recent tax increase given through a state-funded program, introduced Oct. 1, reached some ¥6 billion in the first week through Monday.

The program, aimed at offsetting the economic hit from the consumption tax hike from 8 percent to 10 percent at the start of the month, will continue until the end of June next year.

Consumers who use cashless payment methods to buy goods and services at stores and other facilities are rewarded with points worth up to 5 percent of the purchase amount. One point can be used as one yen when those customers make a cashless transaction the next time.

The industry ministry said that the program had “a steady start,” with the number of stores and others participating in the program coming to around 520,000 as of Friday. The figure is still around a quarter of the total of some 2 million stores eligible to take part in the initiative.

The government, which subsidizes stores to make up for revenue lost from awarding the points, estimates the amount of funds to cover the subsidies at some ¥180 billion under its budget for fiscal 2019, which ends next March.

But a senior ministry official said that points are being rewarded “at a faster pace than predicted under the budget,” suggesting that the ministry will hold discussions with the Finance Ministry about an additional budget in the event of a shortfall in funding.

The industry ministry also said that it has fixed about 90 percent of the roughly 200,000 mistakes in information regarding participating stores on the program’s official website. The ministry will correct the remaining mistakes next week, it said.

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