Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided to delay raising the sales tax 10 percent from April 2017 to October 2019. After the Ise-Shima Summit last week, Abe discussed the significant risk of negatively affecting the world economy with other G7 leaders, if the right policy measures are not taken.
Abe met his colleagues and lawmakers from the Liberal Democratic Party to discuss his plan to postpone the sales tax hike. Japan’s current sales tax, at eight percent, was implemented in April 2014 and stalled the Japanese economy by preventing the growth of retail sales. The 10 percent sales tax hike was originally planned for Oct. 2015.
Abe also decided not to dissolve the lower house for an election at the same time as the upper house election this summer.
Okinawa Base Issue Heats up
The U.S. military base issue in Okinawa is in the news again after a base worker was involved in the death of a local Japanese woman. About 80 scholars and activists are urging the U.S. government to talk with Okinawa about the possibility of closing military bases.
Prior to the Ise-Shima Summit last month, Okinawa governor Takeshi Onaga requested a meeting with President Barack Obama, who visited Hiroshima after the summit.
The recent incident included the arrest of Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, a 32-year-old former marine and current worker at U.S. Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. He is suspected to have killed the 20-year-old woman after sexually assaulting her.
Okinawa will have a local public holiday, Okinawa Memorial Day or Irei no Hi, on June 23 to recognize the lives lost in the Battle of Okinawa during World War II.
Japanese Journalist Captured in Syria
An image of Japanese journalist Jumpei Yasuda, who went missing in Syria last year, appeared online with a plea for help on Sunday. The 42-year-old man, who is believed to have been captured by the Nusra Front, an al-Qaida-linked military group, is holding a sign with “Please help. This is my last chance,” written in Japanese.
According to a report in Japan, the group holding Yasuda has repeatedly contacted the Japanese government for a ransom in exchange for his release. The group also threatened to hand the Japanese man over to the Islamic State unless the government agreed to a negotiation.
The Japanese government said on Monday that it has been making all efforts to secure the release of Yasuda.