野田佳彥在週三晚間與自由民主黨(Liberal Democratic Party)總裁谷垣禎一(Sadakazu Tanigaki)舉行會晤后表示﹐沒有就更為具體的時間表進行進一步討論。
Lower House passes bills to double consumption tax
Japan’s fiscal mess
A pound of flesh
After 15 years, Japan’s fiscal hawks appear to be getting what they want
Jun 23rd 2012 | TOKYO | from the print edition
“THE consumption tax doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of being passed.” So wrote one (usually astute) American economist in December, banking on what has been one of the canons of Japanese politics for the past decade and a half—that few politicians are either brave or reckless enough to risk raising Japan’s most contentious tax.
Surprisingly, to the relief of some and chagrin of others, on June 15th prime minister Yoshihiko Noda’s Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), though at war with itself, agreed with the main opposition parties to raise the sales tax from 5% to 8% in April 2014, and to 10% in October 2015. The only (ill-defined) proviso is that the economy is strong enough to withstand the increase.
A fiscal-reform bill was expected to clear the lower house of the Diet (parliament) after The Economist went to press, paving the way for its passage in the upper house this summer. If it is enacted, not only will it break a taboo of Japanese politics. It will also deepen the debate in Japan, as elsewhere, about the merits of austerity versus growth.
Politically, the tax rise is certainly daring. When the consumption tax was introduced in 1989 at 3%, and raised in 1997 to 5%, the moves undermined the popularity of the governments of the day. So contentious is the issue still that Mr Noda may feel he has to dissolve the Diet soon after passing the consumption-tax legislation. Either way, he may also face a leadership challenge from within the DPJ in September.
What makes the tax especially contentious are its disputed economic consequences. As far as ordinary people are concerned, history provides ample reason to shudder at the prospect of a higher consumption tax. Its introduction in 1989 coincided with the peak of Japan’s stockmarket and property bubbles. The tax increase in 1997 seemed to mark a peak in the economy. Since then Japan’s nominal GDP has shrunk by a tenth. Such a fall (exacerbated by deflation) has hit tax receipts, which have fallen by 22% since 1997, leading to a doubling of the government’s debt.
At a time of stagnant wage growth, few consumers will relish the prospect of paying up to 5% more for everything they buy. However, at its current 5%, the consumption tax is the lowest in the rich world’s sizeable economies, which has bred a sense in Japan that raising the tax was inevitable sooner or later. Even at 10%, it will be at half Europe’s levels—and getting there may boost growth in the short term, by bringing spending forward.
Most people need little reminding that a surge of retiring baby-boomers over the next few years will add to the strains on the pension and health-care systems even as the numbers of working-age Japanese are falling fast. The question is whether a tax rise will increase people’s economic anxieties and further dampen consumption, or reassure them that difficult decisions are being made to shore up their future, so bolstering confidence.
Economists are divided. For a start, they dispute the economic impact of the 1997 tax increase. Opponents of the new tax hike say it plunged Japan into recession. Supporters say the pain was brief. They believe that the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, and deepening bad-loan woes at Japan’s banks, caused the real harm.
Regarding the future, opponents of raising the tax contend that Mr Noda has been brainwashed by the hawkish finance ministry into believing Japan could be the next Greece or Spain—its ratio of debt to GDP, after all, stands at over 200%. Yet despite that, Japan is awash in private-sector and household savings, which enables the government to finance over nine-tenths of its borrowing domestically. That assurance explains why foreign money is pouring, in record amounts, into Japanese government bonds and why interest rates are at their lowest-ever levels. Some argue that the government could comfortably issue far more debt and remain secure.
Nonsense, retort the fiscal hawks. They reckon that unless Japan trims its public-sector debt, the huge stock of savings held by companies and households could vanish as quickly as you can say “capital flight”. In their view, the bond market is a bubble waiting to burst and, if anything, a doubling of the rate is not enough. The tax rise, says Takatoshi Ito of the University of Tokyo, “is the minimum they should be doing, but the maximum they can probably get away with.” He notes that as the population ages, Japan’s economic growth rate will weaken. So the sooner public finances are shored up, the better.
Economists do, however, appear to agree on two things. First, the new tax legislation looks likely to give politicians plenty of room to stall in 2014 should growth not appear robust enough. Second, if the consumption tax is raised, then all the more reason for Japan to redouble efforts to promote economic growth, mostly through productivity-enhancing measures such as spurring foreign investment and entrepreneurship. Takuji Aida, an economist at UBS, a Swiss bank, believes that the government, if it is to ensure that the consumption tax is not viewed as damaging, is under pressure to do more to promote growth.
Indeed, Mr Noda’s government is drawing up a new growth strategy that will promote renewable energy, as well as some reforms in health care and education. Regrettably, there is probably not a snowball’s chance in hell that it will be ambitious enough.
IMF：日本消費稅至少需上調至15%IMF urges Japan to tackle debt英國《金融時報》 中本美智代東京報導
Japan has come under renewed pressure to tackle its huge public debt, with the International Monetary Fund calling on the government to triple the national consumption tax to at least 15 per cent.
在處理巨額公共債務問題上，日本面臨新的壓力——國際貨幣基金組織(IMF)敦促日本政府將國民消費稅至少提高到15%，為原來的三倍。“Japan must tackle its deep-rooted fiscal problems,” David Lipton, first deputy managing director of the IMF, said in Tokyo on Tuesday.
IMF第一副總裁戴維•利普頓(David Lipton)週二在東京表示，“日本必須解決其根深蒂固的財政問題。”The immediate priority for Japan was to pass proposed legislation to raise the consumption tax, but more needed to be done to address the country's longstanding challenges of high public debt, low growth and deflation, Mr Lipton added.
利普頓表示，日本當前第一要務是通過一個上調消費稅的立法提案，但除此之外還需要採取更多行動，解決這個國家長期存在的一些挑戰，包括巨額公共債務、低增長以及通貨緊縮。The IMF's call on Japan to do more to recover its fiscal health comes as the eurozone crisis threatens to further damage the global economic outlook.
在歐元區危機可能會進一步削弱全球經濟前景的形勢下，IMF呼籲日本拿出更多行動以恢復穩健的財政。While more than 90 per cent of Japan's public debt is held domestically, even a relatively small increase in Japan's risk premium* could have a spillover effect on global risk returns and growth, the IMF warned.
*The return in excess of the risk-free rate of return that an investment is expected to yield. An asset's risk premium is a form of compensation for investors who tolerate the extra risk - compared to that of a risk-free asset - in a given investment.
IMF警告稱，雖然日本公共債務90%以上都是國內債務，但日本風險溢價即使是相對小幅的上升，也可能對全球風險回報和增長產生溢出效應。“In this regard, Europe's recent experience offers a cautionary tale. Once market confidence is lost, regaining it becomes very difficult,” it said.
IMF還稱，“在這點上，歐洲最近的經歷就具有警示作用。一旦市場失去信心，要重新恢復這種信心就很困難。”Japan is the world's most indebted country with gross public debt of 235.8 per cent of gross domestic product.
日本是全球負債最高的國家，其公共債務總額相當於國內生產總值(GDP)的235.8%。Even on a net basis, public debt was more than 125 per cent of GDP and was expected to rise further in the absence of fiscal consolidation, the IMF said in its annual assessment of the Japanese economy.
IMF在日本經濟年度評估報告中指出，即使是從淨債務來看，其占GDP的比重也已經超過了125%，如果不鞏固財政的話，這一比重會繼續增加。Last month, Fitch Ratings highlighted Japan's rapidly deteriorating fiscal situation when it downgraded the country's credit rating from double A to A plus.
上個月，惠譽(Fitch Ratings)將日本信用評級從AA降到A+，著重指出日本財政狀況在快速惡化。The Japanese government is locked in intense debate with the opposition over raising the consumption tax in two stages to 10 per cent by 2015.
關於是否在2015年前分兩個階段將消費稅提高到10%，日本政府正在與反對派展開激烈的辯論。Yoshihiko Noda, the prime minister, who has staked his political career on the tax increase, is seeking an agreement with the opposition by the end of the week.
增稅問題關乎日本首相野田佳彥(Yoshihiko Noda)的政治生涯，他尋求在本週末之前與反對派達成一致。While the Japanese government's tax plan was an important step towards fiscal consolidation, “reducing debt to sustainable levels will require more”, Mr Lipton said.
利普頓表示，雖然日本政府的稅收計劃是鞏固財政的重要一步，但“要將債務降到可持續水平，還需要採取更大力度的行動。”“Japan needs to move forcefully on many fronts,” combining fiscal, structural and monetary policies, to tackle its problems, he said.
他說，“日本需要在很多方面採取有力行動”，將財政政策、結構性政策和貨幣政策結合起來以解決問題。In particular, “it is important to look for structural policies that can support growth and mitigate some of the impact of fiscal adjustment,” Mr Lipton said.