Abe squares off with opposition leaders ahead of Upper House election
Japan Times -- Jul 04
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said during a debate with opposition leaders on Wednesday that he will go ahead with the planned sales tax hike in October but vehemently denied there will be further increases while he remains in power.

Although rumors that Abe might postpone the tax hike have died down, with an Upper House election in less than three weeks, questions have been raised over whether there might be further tax hikes.

At the debate, where leaders of major political parties faced off in Tokyo, Abe gave a firm no to this scenario.

“The Abe administration is not at all considering raising the tax rate (over 10 percent),” he told a moderator when asked whether there may be another hike given the high costs of social welfare programs.

A good portion of the two-hour debate at the Japan National Press Club was spent discussing Japan’s pension system, a recent hot topic following outrage over a controversial Financial Services Agency report that estimated ¥20 million in savings might be needed to sustain post-retirement lives for average elderly pensioners.

Some opposition leaders questioned the efficacy of the “macroeconomic slide” system, which was introduced as part of a 2004 pension reform to reduce payout levels as the size of the working-age population falls and average life expectancy increases.

Kazuo Shii, leader of the Japanese Communist Party, insisted the macroeconomic slide will ultimately reduce the pension payment standards to a critically low level.

Abe, however, defended the framework, saying there is no “magic” that would automatically increase payouts and asserting that without it, Japan will be “depleted of pension reserves.”

News source: Japan Times
Jul 17
School-related matters led to more suicides last year among youth aged between 10 and 19 than any other issue, the government said Tuesday in its annual paper on the topic. (Japan Times)
Jul 17
Over two weeks of cloudy and rainy days in Tokyo and nearby areas has resulted in higher vegetable prices and sluggish sales of summer clothing. (Japan Times)
Jul 17
Former Emperor Akihito briefly suffered from cerebral anemia last week, forcing him to postpone his regular health checkup, the Imperial Household Agency said Tuesday. (Japan Today)
Jul 17
Toyota Motor Corp. and Japan's space exploration agency said Tuesday they have signed a three-year agreement to jointly research and develop a rover to be sent to the Moon in 2029. (Kyodo)
Jul 16
The Tokyo metropolitan region experienced another cloudy and rainy day on Monday, marking the 18th straight day in which the country’s capital has seen less than three hours of sunshine per day. (Japan Today)
Jul 16
The sounds of chanting men carrying huge, decorated floats signaled the climax of the Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival. Each float weighs more than one ton. (NHK)
Jul 15
A supermarket has opened in the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, which was devastated by the nuclear disaster in 2011. It is the first supermarket to operate in the town since the accident. Evacuation orders were partially lifted two years ago. (NHK)
Jul 15
Shintaro Mochizuki became the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam junior boys' title by beating Carlos Gimeno Valero of Spain 6-3, 6-2 in the Wimbledon final. (Japan Today)
Jul 14
A 54-year-old man died after he was hit by a float while taking part in a Gion Festival parade in Usuki, Oita Prefecture, on Friday night. (Japan Today)
Jul 14
Police in Hitachi, Ibaraki Prefecture, said Saturday they have arrested a 20-year-old unemployed man on suspicion of killing his 66-year-old grandfather with whom he lived. (Japan Today)