Majority of Japanese oppose raising taxes to fund military expansion: Agency

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The majority of Japanese people do not support raising taxes to fund military expansion, Kyodo reported on Sunday, citing a survey the news agency conducted after the government announced Japan’s biggest military build-up since World War Two.

Japan on Friday announced a $320 billion military spending plan to buy missiles capable of striking China and to ready the country for any sustained conflict, as missile tests by nearby North Korea, China’s claim over Taiwan and the invasion of Ukraine by Japan’s western neighbor Russia stoke fear of war.

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Prime Minister Fumio Kishida this month said his government would not hike taxes for the next fiscal year beginning April 1 but would raise them in stages toward fiscal 2027 to secure funding to boost the defense budget.

He said Japan was at a “turning point in history” and that military expansion through cost-cutting and tax hikes was “my answer to the various security challenges that we face.”

Almost 65 percent of respondents in Kyodo’s survey opposed raising taxes for military spending, while 87 percent said Kishida’s explanation of the need to raise tax was insufficient.

The survey also showed support for Kishida’s administration was unchanged from a month earlier at 33.1 percent, the worst since it was launched in October last year.

The government’s five-year tax plan, once unthinkable in pacifist Japan, would make the country the world’s third-biggest military spender after the United States and China, based on current budgets.

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