Japan’s Suga Sees No Need for Sales Tax Hike in Next Decade

Yoshihide Suga, the front-runner to become Japan’s next premier, appeared to backtrack from earlier comments about the sales tax and align himself with outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, saying there is no need for another hike in the next decade.

“Abe once said the sales tax doesn’t need to be raised for about next 10 years. My thinking is the same,” he told reporters in Tokyo on Friday.

Suga said on a TV show Thursday evening that further increases in the tax are inevitable sometime in the future given the country’s aging population. Abe, Suga’s longtime boss, raised the sales in 2014 and again last October to 10%.

The October hike turned out to be ill-timed. The economy has shrunk in every quarter since, hit first by a slide in consumer spending, bad storms and trade friction, and then by the pandemic.

Some lawmakers have proposed rolling back the sales tax to help people cope with the crisis, but Suga has indicated he wouldn’t. Suga has been the top government spokesman during most of Abe’s current stint as prime minister and is seen as one of the architects of the Abenomics agenda.

Suga is expected to win the Liberal Democratic Party’s leadership vote and get elected prime minister next week following Abe’s resignation due to health issues.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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