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The government and ruling coalition are planning to allow tax-free shopping for purchases at specific vending machines in a bid to spur spending by foreign tourists, sources said Wednesday.

Currently, the authorities only grant the tax-free status to shops that sell over-the-counter goods because of the need to check identification using passports.

But the government is now considering making vending machines with facial and text recognition functions eligible to sell tax-free goods, the sources said.

The change will be included in a tax system reform package for fiscal 2020, which is set to begin next April.

The move comes at a time when a growing number of foreign tourists are buying from vending machines that sell Japanese souvenirs.

Foreign visitors spent a record ¥4.52 trillion in 2018, up from ¥1.09 trillion in 2012. They are said to be spending at an even faster pace this year.

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