(Asahi: July 9, 2015 – p. 4)
The Council for the Implementation of Education Rebuilding, an advisory panel to the government, has put together a proposal to the government calling for expanding its investment in education. A representative of the council submitted the proposal to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on July 8. Although the council proposed an “estimate” of over 4 trillion yen to reduce university tuition fees and implement other measures, the estimate relies on revenue generated by raising the consumption tax to over 10%. Therefore, it remains to be seen whether the proposal can be realized.
The council said in its proposal that reducing the burden on households will help curb the declining birthrate. As measures that the government should implement in the future, it cited free early childhood education (0.7 trillion yen) and reduced university education expenses (0.7 trillion yen), including an increase in scholarships. The funds necessary for just six areas totaled 4.4 trillion yen.
However, the panel was very cautious in writing about financial resources. With an eye on fiscal 2017 and beyond when the consumption tax will be increased to 10%, the council wrote in the proposal that “the government should look into expanding the use of tax revenues for education.”
The council began discussing investment in education last September. Although a review of income tax exemptions was discussed, the government decided this year not to increase taxes by fiscal 2020, excluding the consumption tax hike to 10%. Therefore, there are no revenue sources to support the proposal.
At a press conference Education Minister Hakubun Shimomura said: “It is possible to increase tax revenues not only through increasing taxes but also through economic growth. I will make an effort to secure revenue sources as soon as possible.”