Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may dissolve the Lower House in autumn for a snap election, Liberal Democratic Party bigwig Akira Amari said.
Amari, who heads the ruling party’s Tax System Research Commission, also said it is “impossible” for the government to lower the consumption tax rate as a form of stimulus to offset economic damage from the coronavirus crisis.
“Some say (a Lower House dissolution) should be done in autumn,” Amari, a close ally of Abe, said in an interview on Thursday. “The possibility (of dissolving the Lower House) in autumn or later to coincide with new economic measures is not zero.”
The Lower House members will reach the end of their term in October 2021.
Regarding who will succeed Abe as leader of the LDP, Amari first named Policy Research Council Chairman Fumio Kishida and then former Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba.
“Many people appear to be gunning for the post,” Amari said, adding that it will be ideal if three or so candidates run in the leadership race.
If too many run, some people will begin to say Abe should serve as president for a fourth term, Amari said.
“But he doesn’t mean to do it,” Amari said. “Personally, I want to respect his wish.”
A consumption tax cut “would have a huge magnitude of impact on fiscal health,” he said. “It would take decades to raise the tax rate again.” A consumption tax cut has been proposed by opposition lawmakers and even some LDP members.
“If the tax rate is lowered to 5 percent, that would become normal to many next year,” Amari said, questioning the potential impact on consumer behavior and its effectiveness as an economic measure.
“Distributing cash would have a bigger impact,” he maintained.