(Adds analyst comment in fourth paragraph.)
Oct. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s proposal to raise taxes to rebuild from the March earthquake is opposed by almost six in 10 voters, underscoring the challenge of getting opposition support for the measure.
About 58 percent oppose the move compared with 39 percent who approve, the Mainichi newspaper said today, citing its own poll. The ruling Democratic Party of Japan last week agreed to increase personal and corporate taxes as part of a plan to raise 9.2 trillion yen ($119.5 billion) that would also include selling the government’s stake in Japan Tobacco Inc.
Noda must negotiate with the Liberal Democratic Party and other opposition groups to win parliamentary approval for the proposal. His popularity has dropped since taking office a month ago, which could hamper his efforts to revive an economy suffering from three straight quarters of contraction and a currency trading near postwar highs against the dollar.
“You can discuss what taxes need to be raised, but no matter what it’s a divisive issue,” said Koichi Nakano, a political science professor at Sophia University in Tokyo. “It will probably undermine Noda’s support levels. But a tax increase is inevitable.”
Noda’s approval rating fell to 50 percent from 56 percent last month, the Mainichi poll said. The newspaper surveyed 888 voters on Oct. 1-2 and provided no margin of error. A Kyodo News poll released yesterday showed Noda’s popularity fell to 54.6 percent from 62.8 percent in September, while 50.5 percent opposed the tax increases and 46.2 percent favored them.
Under the plan, corporate taxes would be raised starting next April for three years, while income taxes will increase as of January 2013 for 10 years. Tobacco levies would go up next October. The LDP may oppose the proposal to sell the government’s stake of just over 50 percent of Japan Tobacco on concern it would reduce crop demand, hurting the country’s tobacco farmers.
The government plans to spend 19 trillion yen over the next five years to rebuild after the record temblor and tsunami devastated the northeast and prompted the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 25 years. Parliament has already approved two post- disaster aid packages totaling about 6 trillion yen, and Noda last week proposed a third stimulus of about 12 trillion yen.
--With assistance from Takehiko Kumakura in Tokyo. Editors: Patrick Harrington, Peter Hirschberg
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