A crucial issue cropped up at the regular parliament session that convened Monday — whether Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will seek to hike the politically unpopular consumption tax to cover the child care policies he is trying to advance.

Kishida has pledged to focus on child-related policies in 2023 — an apparent attempt to buoy the sagging popularity of his Cabinet ahead of a string of local elections in the spring by appealing to young parents.

But Kishida no longer has the adequate political strength to carry out such a reform, particularly as previous governments struggled to even propose such a hike, analysts said.