[TOKYO] Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering delaying for a second time a planned increase in the nation's sales tax if the economy continues to stagnate, the Yomiuri newspaper reported on Friday.
Mr Abe is considering a one- to two-year delay for the tax increase to 10 per cent from 8 per cent, now planned for April 2017, the newspaper said, without citing sources for the information.
He will make his decision after seeing first-quarter growth figures in May and judging conditions within the Group of Seven industrial powers when he hosts a G-7 summit late that month, the Yomiuri said.
Mr Abe had long insisted that he would delay the hike only in the event of a shock on the order of the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers bank that ushered in the global financial crisis. But he recently suggested the possibility of another delay, and his government has begun informally discussing another postponement, sources previously told Reuters.
The premier raised the levy from 5 per cent in April 2014, as agreed under the previous government, to curb Japan's massive public debt. But the move sent the world's third-biggest economy into deep recession. He postponed the planned second increase, which was to have occurred last October.