Japanese lawmakers pass tax hike package

Aug. 10, 2012 at 3:14 PM
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TOKYO, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Japanese lawmakers handed Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda a key victory Friday when the upper House passed Noda's social security and tax reform package.

Noda has hitched his political fortunes to the unpopular measure that would double the sales tax to 10 percent by 2015, saying the plan puts Japan on the path of fiscal recovery, The Japan Times reported.

Friday's passage of the three-bill package came a day after Noda survived a no-confidence motion, gaining support of two major opposition parties after promising to dissolve the lower House of Representatives for an early election "soon."

He didn't say when the election would be held.

"We made a big first step toward restoring Japan's fiscal health by securing a stable source of income to cover social security costs," Noda said during a Diet committee meeting Friday.

During an upper House of Councilors committee session Friday, Noda deflected questions about when a timetable for the dissolution of the lower chamber.

"It's not appropriate (now) to clearly give a detailed date," he said.

The Times said Noda's ruling Democratic Party of Japan would like to avoid a quick vote because support for Noda's Cabinet has fallen sharply. A Mainichi Shimbun poll in July indicated the approval rating for the Noda government fell to 23 percent.

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