Bad news for smokers
Japan's Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa has resisted that call. But he had bad news for Japanese smokers on Friday.
He confirmed a local newspaper report that the government was considering hiking the cigarette tax in fiscal 2002.
"There is a movement toward discouraging smoking, so I don't think the public will be opposed to a tax hike on cigarettes," he said at a press conference. "I think they will accept it."
Raising taxes on cigarettes would bring in more revenue without the government having to sell more government bonds.