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The government has begun crafting a road map for the nation’s fiscal rehabilitation — which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised to prepare by this summer when he made the decision last fall to postpone the second phase of the consumption tax hike by 18 months to April 2017. Abe says his administration is maintaining its goal of achieving a primary balance surplus in 2020 — though he denies ever making it an international commitment — by promoting growth through his “Abenomics” policies and boosting tax revenue.

But the latest estimates by the Cabinet Office show that Japan will still fall far short of the target even if its economy grows faster in the years to 2020 than it ever did over the past two decades. The figures indicate that fiscal reconstruction will be tough unless the government makes painful cuts to its spending, which hits a record ¥96.34 trillion in the fiscal 2015 general account budget.

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