TOKYO Dec 29 Japan's ruling party tax
panel proposed on Thursday a new timetable for increases in
sales tax in the face of growing opposition, with the first
increase not coming until April 2014, six months later than
Japan, which will rely on public debt to fund nearly half of
next fiscal year's budget as tax revenues dwindle, wants to
double the sales tax to 10 percent by mid-decade to fund social
But Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has run into strife
getting support, not just from the public and the opposition but
also from some members of his Democratic Party. On Wednesday,
nine junior members of the party handed in requests to leave the
party over the issue.
Late on Thursday, Democratic lawmakers were still debating
the proposal -- which calls for raising the 5 percent sales tax
to 8 percent in April 2014 and then to 10 percent in October
2015, but it was not clear if they would be able to reach a
consensus by the prime minister's self-imposed deadline of the
Noda earlier in the day appealed to party members to come up
with a plan that included specific times for the sales tax to be
increased and urging them to be mindful of Europe's debt woes.
"From the perspective of risk management, reform of social
welfare and taxes is something that must be done," he said.
A meeting on Wednesday lasted more than eight hours but
ended in stalemate as Democrat legislators failed to agree on
the earlier plan to raise the sales tax to 8 percent in October
2013 and then to 10 percent in April 2015.
Japan's sales tax is among the lowest in developed countries
but many politicians consider tax increases to be politically
taboo, given the drubbings ruling parties have got in past
elections when even just the possibility of raising taxes has
been a main issue.