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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 April 30 - May 13  > ‘Temporary’ tax on gas resumed; ruling bloc rams through related bills
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2008 April 30 - May 13 [FINANCE]

‘Temporary’ tax on gas resumed; ruling bloc rams through related bills

May 2, 2008
Using the force of majority in the House of Representatives, the ruling Liberal Democratic and Komei parties rammed through a tax bill to restore and maintain high rates for gasoline and other road-related taxes over the next 10 years in defiance of strong public opposition.

The high gasoline and other road-related tax rates had expired at the end of March.

From May 1, consumers have to pay 25 yen per liter in tax on gas purchases. This means a 2.6 trillion yen tax increase a year. The tax revenue will be used to continue the construction of expressways all over the country for another ten years.

The bill was approved by the House of Representatives on February 29. But the House of Councilors did not vote on the bill.

The failure by the House of Councilors to take final action within 60 days after receipt of a bill passed by the House of Representatives was determined by the House of Representatives to constitute a rejection of the said bill by the House of Councilors (Article 59 of the Constitution) for the first time in 56 years. The House of Representatives then reinstated the bill and enacted it by a two-thirds majority.

In the House of Representatives Plenary Session on April 30, the Japanese Communist Party expressed opposition to the bill.

The opposition Democratic and Social Democratic parties absented themselves from the plenary session, despite an agreement by the opposition parties to join forces in opposition to the bill.

JCP Secretariat Head Ichida Tadayoshi criticized the DPJ’s absence, saying such an attitude cannot win public support. “The DPJ should have attended the session to state clearly its opposition to the bill.”

JCP lawmakers’ assembly

At a JCP Dietmembers’ assembly held prior to the plenary session, JCP Chair Shii Kazuo criticized the ruling parties for their outrageous act as follows:

(1) Reinstating the gasoline and other road related taxes and maintaining it for the next 10 years contradicts Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo’s promise that gasoline and other automobile-related tax revenue will be used for purposes other than road construction starting in April 2009.

(2) Raising the gas tax will seriously affect basic living conditions at a time when food and other prices are rising and when medical costs are rising under the newly introduced medical system for the elderly aged 75 years and older.

(3) The ruling parties are eager to maintain the higher tax rates in order to construct more expressways under a 10-year project that will squander tax money amounting to tens of trillions of yen on road construction alone.

Shii stressed that the gasoline and other road-related tax revenue should be released for general purposes without delaying it until the next fiscal year, and that the wasteful “mid-term project” be revoked.

“In the remainder of the current Diet session that will end on June 15, the JCP will take part active part in debates in the Diet and on-street campaigns outside the Diet in order to isolate the Fukuda Cabinet,” Shii stressed. - Akahata, May 2, 2008
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