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Election Battlegrounds: Sales tax hot topic in Tokyo No. 7 constituency

The future of the planned consumption tax hike was a hot topic on the first day of general election campaigning in Tokyo's No. 7 constituency.

The election fight in this electoral district that includes Nakano Ward is shaping up to be a three-way battle among the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)'s Fumiaki Matsumoto, 68, former health minister Akira Nagatsuma of the newly minted Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP), 57, and onetime Kumamoto Prefectural Assembly lawmaker Akihiro Araki, 64, now running for Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike's Party of Hope.

The locals in this urban constituency are taking a hard look at what effect the consumption tax hike from 8 percent to 10 percent scheduled for October 2019 will have on their businesses.

One 54-year-old owner of a traditional clothing store in Nakano Ward founded in 1913 is firmly against the hike happening at all, saying, "There are 'furisode' (long-sleeved) kimonos that cost 800,000 yen. Just the (higher) consumption tax would cost 80,000 yen to the bill. That's not small change." He added, "When the tax went up last time from 5 percent to 8 percent, sales fell by 20 to 30 percent."

Meanwhile, 55-year-old tofu shop owner Koshiro Jingu said he understood the tax hike, telling the Mainichi Shimbun, "With the severe state of Japan's finances, regular citizens have to bear some of the load across the board."

On what Japan should do in response to North Korea's missile launches and nuclear tests, Jingu commented, "Regular people like us can't really do anything about the country's international posture. That's a problem that politicians have to deal with."

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