Japan ruling party vows to tackle debt, sales tax

Japan's ruling Democratic Party has vowed to fix the country's tattered finances and pledged to seek a decision on tax reform quickly, paving the way for a likely hike in a politically sensitive consumption tax.

In their campaign platform for a July 11 upper house election, the Democrats also vowed to do their best to keep fresh government bond issuance in the fiscal year starting next April from exceeding the “level for fiscal 2010”.

“We will launch a multiparty discussion on the overhaul of tax systems, including consumption tax, with the aim of reaching a conclusion early,” the party's manifesto said.

It gave no hint of the timing or extent of a sales tax hike.

The government planned to issue new Japanese government bonds (JGBs) worth 44.3 trillion yen ($485bn) in its initial for the current fiscal year. The amount will change if the government crafts an extra budget to raise or cut the amount of issuance later.

The Democrats did not specify the level of a JGB cap.

That may worry investors who are concerned about Japan's bulging debt, which is about twice the size of GDP, the worst among developed countries.

“Our basic stance is to compile (next fiscal year's) budget while keeping new JGB issuance from topping the amount planned in the initial budget (for this fiscal year),” Goshi Hosono, acting secretary general of the party, said.

“But the economy is a living thing and I don't deny that there could be a need to respond flexibly to situations that could emerge as Japan tends to be significantly affected by the world economy.”

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