Japan’s prime minister Yoshihiko Noda replaced five ministers of his cabinet on Monday, trying to persuade the main opposition party to give its OK over his plans of increasing the sales tax, analysts say.
The five politicians, among which the defence and transport ministers, have been criticized by the opposition for performing poorly. Noda is trying to win support from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) so that his package of tax bills, including the sales tax increase, would pass through a divided parliament.
It remains however to be seen if Noda’s decision will impress the LDP. The Liberal’s upper house secretary-general Kensei Mizote commented that any talks on a compromise on welfare reform had nothing to do with Noda’s decision to make changes in his cabinet, according to Kyodo news agency.
The sales tax would go up to 10 percent by 2015, compared to 5 percent now. Noda’s cabinet sees the increasing of the tax as the most effective thing to do to tackle Japan’s ballooning public debt.
“This reshuffle is to strengthen the cabinet and ensure that the government can make progress on several different policies, including tax and welfare reform,” Noda said in a press conference. “I cannot allow this bill to be defeated. I will do my best to make sure this bill gets passed.”
Noda is worried by disputes in his own party as well, especially with Ichiro Ozawa, an influentual politician of the Democrats.