Finance Minister Jun Azumi on Saturday held the first of several planned public briefings by the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) to explain its proposal to raise the consumption tax from the current 5% to 10%.
Azumi spoke to about 160 local business representatives in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. He said that without the consumption tax hike, the nation's social security system will become unsustainable over the long term, NHK reported.
Azumi and two Finance Ministry vice ministers will travel around the country this month, trying to gain public understanding. Deputy Prime Minister Katsuya Okada will also help with the briefings from February.
The government plans to raise the 5% consumption tax to 8% in April 2014 and to 10% in October 2015 to help cover ballooning social security costs.
However, opposition parties have refused to enter into negotiations on the proposal. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said last week that the government has to make a stronger case to the public.
But he faces a tough fight as the majority of Japanese are opposed to the rise, according to recent opinion polls. Some 79.5% are opposed to the plan without the government's effort to cut costs first by cracking down on wasteful use of tax money, Kyodo News agency said.
The Yomiuri Shimbun also reported 55% of the Japanese are opposed to the tax hike plan, while 39% support it. The Asahi Shimbun said 57% were against the tax hike.© Japan Today