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Temporary tax stirring opposition across Japan

Date Posted: 2008-02-14

A temporary extra tax due to expire soon is fanning discontent between the nation’s 47 Prefecture governors who want to keep it, and consumers who want it to disappear.

“We need to keep this tax going,” says Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima. “If the tax is not coming to the Prefecture, we will not be able to meet our budget at all.” Nakaima and the other governors want to keep the temporary special road tax, extending it at least for several years. The Okinawa Road Maintenance Promotion Work Union, Okinawa Prefecture District Committee Group, is appealing to the governor to keep the tax in place.

The special road tax is linked to gasoline prices. “If gasoline costs go down ¥25 per liter for one month, the total comes to only a ¥2,000 difference,” the Union and Committee Group point out, “but the Okinawa budget will drop from ¥104.7 billion to ¥53.4 billion without the tax.” Without the tax, officials say, “we can’t even make a new road.”

Citizens complain taxes are already too high, and are upset with politicians’ push to keep the special road tax. “Who elected you guys?” one asks. “We did.” Citizens are telling government leaders “you need to listen to what residents want, and what is best for the people.”

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