(LinkAsia: June 29, 2012) Yul Kwon: Welcome back to LinkAsia. Japanese leaders are looking into the future and seeing red. The country's national debt is growing, and so is the number of senior citizens who rely on government support. So Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and his allies in parliament are trying to shore up the country's finances by doubling the consumption tax and revamping the social security system. Here's the report from NHK.
NHK World NEWSLINE Airdate: June 26, 2012
Reporter: One bill would increase the tax on goods and services from 5 to 10 percent by 2015. Three hundred and sixty three lawmakers voted in favor of it. Ninety-six voted against it.
Politicians hopes the revenues will help them pay down Japan's substantial debt. They also want to cover the rapid rise in spending on things such as pensions.
The opposition Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito Party voted with the governing coalition, but 57 members of the ruling Democratic Party voted against the consumption tax bill. They include former party leader, Ichiro Ozawa. 16 other DPJ members abstained or were absent.
The set of reforms were sent to the upper house, where they are expected to be passed into law. Prime Minister Noda spoke a few hours after the lower house vote and stressed the significance of the reform bills.
Yoshihiko Noda, Japanese Prime Minister: There is no time to waste in reforming the social security system. The aim of the plan, comprehensive reforms, is to secure a stable financial source for social security services, and at the same time, improve fiscal health. That stable financial source is the consumption tax.
Yul Kwon: Pushing through the unpopular consumption tax could cost Noda his political career. And waiting in the wings, if that happens, is Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto. He's founded a new party, called the Osaka Restoration Party. And there are rumors that he's hoping to cash in on the public's dissatisfaction with the political establishment.