(Asahi: March 23, 2016 – p. 4)
In the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), a number of senior party members have called for postponing the consumption tax hike planned for April 2017. In this connection, LDP Secretary General Sadakazu Tanigaki made a critical comment at a press conference on March 22, saying, “I’m not sure it’s appropriate for such varied opinions to emerge.” He then expressed the view that the consumption tax rate should be increased as planned, noting, “There aren’t many people who believe an emergency situation like the Lehman shock is occurring. (The consumption tax hike) is an established policy.”
The party’s Policy Research Council Chairperson Tomomi Inada has taken the position of accepting the idea of postponing the tax hike depending on the economic situation. Also Kensei Mizote, the chairman of the LDP caucus in the House of Councillors, has explicitly said that he “agrees” with the idea of holding the Upper and Lower House elections concurrently after deciding to postpone the tax increase.
The Komeito party, which is the LDP’s coalition partner, has been admonishing such remarks by LDP leaders. Komeito Secretary General Yoshihisa Inoue emphasized at a meeting of the government and the ruling parties on March 22: “Whether to dissolve the Lower House is the sole prerogative of the prime minister. It is crucial to make comments based on the perception share by the ruling parties that the economic fundamentals are gradually recovering.” Komeito Representative Natsuo Yamaguchi also said at a press conference: “We should not make careless comments about uncertain things.”