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Public split over consumption tax hike plan with 47% against, 42% for: Mainichi poll

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, is seen at the National Diet building in this file photo taken on Nov. 12, 2018. (Mainichi/Masahiro Kawata)

TOKYO -- The public is divided over whether the 8 percent consumption tax should be raised to 10 percent in October 2019 as scheduled, with 47 percent of respondents to a weekend Mainichi Shimbun opinion poll opposing the proposal and 42 percent supporting the plan.

Sixty percent of 982 pollees voiced opposition to the government's plan to refund 2 percent of the tax in points to those who shop at small and medium-sized establishments and pay by credit card. Only 26 percent was in favor of the proposal.

The plan proved relatively popular with younger people, with some 40 percent of those aged 18 to 29 supporting it. The figures for those in their 50s, 60s, 70s and above were around 20 percent.

The consumption tax, an indirect tax levied on virtually all goods and services, was increased from 5 percent to 8 percent in April 2014. However, its further raise to 10 percent has since been postponed twice due to sluggish economic conditions. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has declared that the government will go ahead with the tax hike in October 2019 as planned.

Meanwhile, respondents opposing the government's resumption of work to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within Okinawa Prefecture outnumbered those in favor -- 46 percent opposed the move while 35 percent were in favor.

The southernmost prefecture of Okinawa hosts about 70 percent of U.S. military facilities in Japan, although it accounts for less than 1 percent of the country's total land area. The Okinawa Prefectural Government is strongly opposed to the move.

Regarding regional revitalization minister Satsuki Katayama's handling of graft allegations, an overwhelming majority -- 73 percent -- of the respondents answered that she has failed to fulfill her accountability, far above the 9 percent who were supportive of her.

The Shukan Bunshun weekly magazine has reported that Katayama contacted a senior National Tax Agency official after a company asked her office to intervene in a tax-related problem and paid 100 million yen to her personal secretary.

Katayama, the sole female member of the Abe Cabinet, has come under further criticism following her repeated corrections of her political funding reports.

With regard to Abe's long-cherished constitutional revisions, 64 percent said the Diet did not need to make haste in initiating amendment to the supreme law, well above the 20 percent who responded that the legislature should swiftly propose such revisions. The figures remained at almost the same levels as those in the previous poll in October.

Most of the pollees, 72 percent, replied that they were not convinced by Prime Minister Abe and the government's explanation of favoritism scandals involving two school operators -- Moritomo Gakuen and Kake Educational Institution -- while only 11 percent said they were satisfied. These figures also remained at almost the same levels as last month.

Of the respondents, 29 percent said they supported the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and 12 percent answered they back the largest opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan. The figures for the LDP's junior coalition partner Komeito, the Japanese Communist Party, Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) and the Democratic Party for the People came to 5 percent, 3 percent, 2 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

In the nationwide survey on Nov. 17 and 18, the Mainichi Shimbun called the numbers of mobile and fixed-line telephones randomly picked by a computer. Responses were received from 514 individuals from 794 households that were contacted by the Mainichi on fixed-line telephones. The response rate came to 65 percent. Of 605 people who were contacted on cellphones, 468 responded to the survey. The response rate was 77 percent. Areas designated as zones where residents cannot return in the foreseeable future due to the Fukushima nuclear crisis were not covered by the survey.

(Japanese original by Kazuki Kuraoka, Poll Office)

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