Tokyo, April 19 (Jiji Press)–Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party-Komeito ruling coalition and the opposition Democratic Party for the People agreed at a meeting of their secretaries-general on Tuesday to skip an emergency gasoline tax cut for now.
The three parties confirmed a policy of continuing discussions to promptly reach a conclusion on whether to unfreeze the so-called trigger clause enabling such a tax cut, including a possible system review.
As a measure to reduce the impact of soaring oil prices amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Komeito and the DPFP have been calling for unfreezing the clause.
At a press conference on the day, DPFP leader Yuichiro Tamaki indicated that his party will continue demanding the unfreezing of the clause.
“Both individuals and companies are suffering from soaring oil prices,” Tamaki said, underscoring the need to take “measures that can allow users to feel a price decline.”
In March, the three parties launched a task force to discuss the issue. At its fourth meeting Tuesday, the task force compiled a report for the parties’ secretaries-general.
The report points out that the trigger clause, if activated, could cause such problems as wild fluctuations in gasoline prices that would lead to confusion at gas stations.
The report adds that no specific solutions to the possible problems have been found at this point.
As a measure to tackle soaring oil prices for the time being, the report calls for continuing the government’s subsidy program for oil wholesalers.
The report includes proposals to expand the subsidy program so that it can deal with further price increases that would offset the benefit of the trigger clause, lower the gasoline price threshold for providing the subsidies from the current 172 yen per liter and add aircraft fuel to the list of fuels covered by the program.
Later on Tuesday, the secretaries-general and policy affairs chiefs of the LDP and Komeito discussed whether the government should compile a fiscal 2022 supplementary budget to finance an emergency economic package, including measures against higher oil prices, but failed to narrow their differences.
While Komeito is calling on the government to draw up an extra budget, the LDP aims to utilize reserve funds set aside under the government’s budget for fiscal 2022, which started this month.
After the LDP-Komeito talks, LDP Secretary-General Toshimitsu Motegi told reporters, “Although there is a considerable degree of consensus between the two parties, there are still some points that need to be discussed further.”
Komeito Secretary-General Keiichi Ishii said, “There is no change in our stance of seeking the compilation and passage of a supplementary budget during the current parliamentary session.”