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The ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party will seek a majority at least in the upcoming upper house election, the top government spokesman said Tuesday.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga also told a seminar held by Kyodo News that Abe will keep placing top priority on reviving the Japanese economy, implementing measures to stimulate growth such as tax breaks for companies.
"It is a minimal goal for the ruling parties to obtain a majority" in the July 21 House of Councillors election, Suga said. "We are trying to secure a comfortable majority," the senior LDP lawmaker added, referring to a higher goal of controlling all its standing committees in addition to the chamber itself.
Half the seats in the upper house, 121, come up for grabs every three years. Suga's remarks mean the LDP and its junior coalition partner, the New Komeito party, aim to secure a total of 129, including the 59 uncontested seats the two parties currently hold.
He also said the ruling camp will fight the forthcoming election by stressing Abe's economic policies to end chronic deflation in the country, adding that an extraordinary Diet session, expected this fall, will be dominated by related issues such as Abe's recently unveiled growth strategy.
Suga said the government intends to discuss tax measures as part of the strategy as it hopes to encourage companies to increase capital spending on renewal of production facilities. "The Abe administration will front-load necessary measures," the spokesman said.
As for the planned consumption tax hike from April, Suga expressed caution.
"We will not implement a tax increase that may end up with declines in tax revenues," he said, referring to fears that the higher sales tax could adversely affect the government's efforts to revitalize the economy by slowing business investment and weakening private consumption.
The spokesman reiterated the government will monitor the economic environment, especially April-June growth data due out this fall, before determining whether to raise the tax.
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