Japan's opposition leader pledges tax cuts as election looms
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  • Japan's opposition leader Ichiro Ozawa, who is calling for an immediate election, pledged to finance a tax cut by slashing the government's spending over four years. The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) would cut 2.6 trillion yen ($24.5 billion) in taxes next year and find 20.5 trillion yen over four years through cutting unnecessary spending and utilizing money already sitting in government accounts, Ozawa said in Parliament on October 1. He, however, didn't provide details1. Meanwhile, the DPJ has asserted that it would not cooperate with efforts to swiftly pass a supplementary budget for fiscal 2008 without an assurance that the House of Representatives would be dissolved immediately afterward2.

    In another important development new Prime Minister Taro Aso, who is known for his slips of the tongue, faced Upper House lawmakers and apologized for his past verbal gaffes3. He has given indications that he may move to enable the Self-Defense Forces to exercise the right to collective self-defense, lifting decades-old legal restrictions4. In addition, he asserted that boosting Japan's economic growth takes priority over dissolving parliament and holding a general election5.

    On the military front Japan's head admiral, Keiji Akahoshi, has said that the navy will cut exercises by two-thirds in the current fiscal year due to soaring fuel costs. Admiral Keiji Akahoshi announced the cuts, a month after the defence ministry asked for its first budget increase in seven years to ease the financial headache from surging oil costs6.