Abe aims at achieving stronger growth to implement tax hikes

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday his government will keep up efforts to achieve sustainable growth in the Japanese economy, a precondition for planned sales tax hikes.

"I want to bring about the economic environment that would warrant the tax hikes," Abe told a Diet committee session, in reference to economic policies encompassing monetary easing, flexible fiscal spending and growth strategy.

Whether the country could actually raise the politically sensitive consumption tax largely depends on "various economic indicators" and requires the government to "consider the situation comprehensively," he added.

The government is to raise the sales tax rate to 8 percent from the current 5 percent in April 2014, and to 10 percent in October 2015, to raise revenue needed to cover swelling social security costs driven by the country's graying population. Those costs have increasingly weighed on the public finances.

The tax hikes are necessary for the government to make the welfare system sustainable and secure international confidence in Japan's efforts to improve its fiscal health, the premier said.