The top legislative priority of prime minister Yoshihiko Noda in 2012 is to reform the tax and social welfare system in Japan, he said at his first press conference of the year.
“Our biggest hurdle is the unified reform of social security and taxes,” he said. “This is something we can no longer postpone.”
Noda is trying to convince political opposition of the necessity to double the sales tax to 10 percent by 2015, to fund the rising social costs as the population is growing older.
Noda said he wants to open negotiations on the matter with opposition parties next week. He aims to send the sales tax bill to the Parliament by the end of March, when the current fiscal year ends.
According to unnamed sources cited by the Japanese press, he said to a former prime minister last week that he intends to dissolve the lower house and call new elections if his bill will not be approved.
Japan’s public debt is projected to surpass $13 trillion in the current fiscal year, one of the highest in the world, as a result of an aging society and two decades of sluggish growth.