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Noda Could Dissolve Lower House over Tax Dispute

Date Posted: 2012-06-14

Prime Minister Yoshihiko now has the opposition Liberal Democratic Party in his corner, supporting a proposed 10% tax hike, but he’s still encountering enough trouble from his own party he’s resorting to threatening to dissolve the Lower House of the Diet.

Noda, leader of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, is at odds with fellow party member and former DPJ leader Ichiro Ozawa, who opposes the sales tax hike. He’s threatening to dissolve the current Diet session if his doubling the sales tax does not pass. He’s signed on report from the LDP, which says it will support Noda’s plan for a two-stage plan for increasing the consumption tax 10%.

The opposition lawmakers aren’t settling into a partnership with Noda though. The LDP support is conditional, and divided over other elements of tax reform. The LDP and its New Komeito ally are at odds with the DPJ over social security reform, as well as other elements of tax reform Noda wants. The bill the two sides are in agreement on would double the 5% tax fist to 8% in 2014, and to 10% in October 2015.

Ichiro Ozawa, who leads the largest faction within the Democratic Party of Japan, is opposed to increases. When the DPJ rolled to power in 2009, it was Ozawa that led the promises of no-tax-increases. Now, he remains committed to no new taxes, and also opposes any dissolution of the Lower House. Noda’s threats are seen as provocative by Ozawa supporters.

“The time for us to make a decision for the public is drawing near,” said Noda as he explained why the new tax is so important. “I am staking my political career” on achieving these reforms, he told lawmakers during a House of Representatives special committee members. Noda says he’d prefer to have unity, but the parties still are far apart on reaching any agreements.

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