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Consumption tax hike inevitable in future: Japan PM contender Suga

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga gives a press conference at the prime minister's office on Sept. 7, 2020. (Mainichi/Kan Takeuchi)

TOKYO -- Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who is running for the presidency of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and effectively the position of prime minister of Japan, expressed in a television appearance on Sept. 10 that a hike in the consumption tax will be inevitable in the future.

    The 71-year-old Suga was on a television program on the broadcaster TV Tokyo with his two contenders, former LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba and head of the LDP Policy Research Council Fumio Kishida, both 63 years old. When the three were asked the question, "Should the consumption tax be raised to more than 10% in the future?" Suga held up a panel with a circle (instead of a triangle or an x), meaning the affirmative. He then added, "I felt it would be better to refrain from saying that the tax would be raised. But no matter how hard we try, we can't avoid depopulation. When we think about the future, I think it will be inevitable to raise the consumption tax by asking the public to accept it after we've thoroughly carried out administrative reform."

    Meanwhile, Ishiba and Kishida both raised panels with triangles on them, meaning that they are committed neither to the affirmative or the negative.

    At a press conference the following day, Suga clarified that a consumption tax hike would likely be unnecessary for another decade or so.

    "Prime Minister Abe said (in July 2019), 'There is no need to raise it for another 10 years or so.' I am of the same view."

    Suga also said, "For the time being, I would like to continue putting all my efforts into novel coronavirus countermeasures and reviving the economy."

    (Japanese original by Shuhei Endo, Political News Department)

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