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48% of voters support 10% consumption tax

Nearly half of the nation's voters back a 10 percent consumption tax rate, as recently mentioned in remarks by Prime Minister Naoto Kan, according to the latest Yomiuri Shimbun opinion poll.

Though 48 percent approve of Kan effectively proposing a tax hike, 44 percent do not.

At a press conference to announce the ruling Democratic Party of Japan's campaign promises Thursday, Kan--who also serves as president of the DPJ--said he wanted to "refer to the Liberal Democratic Party's proposal to raise the rate to 10 percent [as we decide our own proposal]."

Meanwhile, 55 percent of those surveyed said they would support using the increased revenue for social security services, as proposed by the LDP. Thirty-seven percent said they did not support such a move.

The LDP said it would raise the consumption tax rate to 10 percent for the time being and use the revenue from the tax to provide social security benefits such as pensions and medical and nursing care services, in addition to measures to cope with the declining birthrate.

A total of 1,764 people were contacted for the telephone survey between Friday and Sunday; 1,114--or 63 percent--provided valid answers.

It was the second in a series of opinion polls to be conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun ahead of the House of Councillors election on July 11, following the June 12-13 survey.

As many respondents supported Kan's comments and the LDP's pledges in regard to the tax hike, it appears there is a consensus among voters over the tax hike, analysts say.

Asked which party they planned to vote for in the upper house poll, 32 percent said they would vote DPJ, a drop from 34 percent in the previous survey. Fifteen percent said they would vote for the LDP, a decrease of one percentage point from the previous poll. As for the proportional representation race, 30 percent said they will back the DPJ, while 14 percent said they will support the LDP. Both were down, from 31 percent and 16 percent, respectively, from the previous survey.

As the desired government formation after the election, 27 percent preferred "a new framework following political realignment," up from 24 percent in the previous poll. "A coalition government with a new framework led by the DPJ" was chosen by 23 percent, one point down from the previous survey.

In its campaign pledges, the DPJ says it would provide "something in addition to" the current monthly child-rearing payout of 13,000 yen per month, effectively giving up its previous promise of 26,000 yen.

Of the voters interviewed, 61 percent said they support the decision; 34 percent said they did not.

Meanwhile, 41 percent said they favored sticking to the DPJ's policy to move ahead with the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture in line with the Japan-U.S. agreement reached under former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. But 44 percent said they do not.

The survey also showed support for the Kan Cabinet was at 55 percent, down from the 59 percent it received in the first installment of the opinion poll series, while the disapproval rate was 32 percent, up from 27 percent.

(Jun. 22, 2010)
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