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2014 February 26 - March 4 [POLITICS]

Ruling parties forcibly pass through Lower House draft budget relying on revenues from sales tax hike

March 1, 2014
The ruling coalition parties on February 28 rammed through the Lower House the FY 2014 draft budget incorporating a consumption tax increase scheduled for April, despite strong objections from opposition parties, including the Japanese Communist Party. The budget bill was sent to the Upper House.

Earlier in the day, the JCP submitted to the House Budget Committee a motion to revise the bill in a bid to halt the planned sales tax hike.

At the committee meeting, JCP representative Miyamoto Takeshi demanded that the government put a halt to the sales tax increase and implement policies to boost the income of the general public. The lawmaker also urged the administration to drastically curtail military spending and not accord preferential treatment to only big businesses by ending the special corporate tax designated for reconstruction from the 2011 disaster earlier than scheduled.

The JCP’s motion was rejected by a majority vote.

Prior to the vote in a House plenary session, Miyamoto noted in his speech that an increase in the consumption tax, which is projected to amount to eight trillion yen a year, will harm people’s lives, the economy, and national finances. He argued that it is totally unacceptable for the state to expand the military budget and large-scale public works projects while imposing on the public heavy burdens such as a higher share of medical costs and cuts in pension benefits on top pf the regressive sales tax.

Commenting on the bill’s passage, JCP Chair Shii Kazuo stressed at a press conference that raising the sales tax rate while real wages have been declining will trigger the downfall of Japan’s economy. “We will continue to struggle in the Upper House by calling for a stop to the consumption tax hike,” he said.
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