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Japan PM Kishida Faces Calls for Election Over Defense Tax Hike

Japan PM Kishida Faces Calls for Election Over Defense Tax Hike

(Bloomberg) — Japanese voters want an election before any hike in taxes to fund Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s plans for a record increase in defense spending and providing more support for families with children, according to two polls.

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About 63% of respondents to a poll by the Nikkei newspaper carried out Jan 27-29 and 77% of those who took part in a survey by Kyodo News Jan 28-29 said Kishida should go to the people ahead of any increase in the tax burden.

After pledging an unprecedented 60% hike in defense spending over five years and a doubling in outlays aimed at encouraging people to have children, Kishida faces weeks of quizzing in parliamentary committees starting Monday over where the deeply indebted country will find the funds.

Any increase in taxes would be particularly unwelcome, as the highest inflation in 40 years has hit household budgets, and few expect pay rises to outstrip the pace of rising prices.

While he need not hold a general election for more than two years, the unpopular premier could opt to go to the public early in a bid to re-establish his mandate, with the opposition too fragmented to pose a serious challenge. Support for his cabinet was little changed at 33.4% in the Kyodo survey and 39% in the Nikkei poll.

Most of the respondents to the Kyodo poll said they approved of plans to increase spending on children in one of the world’s most aged countries, but almost 64% of respondents said they opposed a corresponding tax hike. While Kishida has called on employers to raise wages at a rate above inflation, as many as 80% said they didn’t expect pay hikes on that scale this year.

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A majority of those polled by the Nikkei said they didn’t think Kishida’s measures would be effective in tackling the country’s demographic woes.

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