Updated: 03/20/2014 19:14 | By Agence France-Presse

Japan passes record $937 bn budget

Japan on Thursday passed its biggest-ever budget, a $937 billion spending package aimed at propping up growth as consumers brace for the country's first sales tax hike in over 15 years.


Japan passes record $937 bn budget

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe answers questions during a budget committee session at the National Diet in Tokyo, on March 14, 2014

A total of 136 lawmakers in the 242-member upper house, controlled by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, voted for the package, against 102 opposition votes, a parliamentary spokesman said. Two lawmakers did not cast a vote, one seat is vacant and the house speaker only casts a ballot in a tie.

The passage came after the lower house last month approved the 95.88 trillion yen ($937.4 billion) budget for the fiscal year starting in April.

The new budget comes as Tokyo pushes for speedy implementation of a $50 billion stimulus package specially designed to protect Japan's fragile economic recovery, as sales taxes rise to 8.0 percent from 5.0 percent on April 1 -- the first hike since the late nineties.

The increase is seen as crucial to bringing down Japan's eye-watering national debt, which is proportionately the worst among rich nations. 

But there are fears it will derail Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's policy blitz, dubbed Abenomics, aimed at kickstarting the world's third-largest economy after it suffered years of growth-denting deflation.

"I would like to continue making strong efforts to end deflation and grow the economy," the conservative Abe told a parliamentary session Thursday.

The premier, who swept to power in late 2012 on a ticket to rescue Japan's long-lumbering economy, is expected to hold a press briefing Thursday evening.

The proposed package -- up from 92.61 trillion yen for the current fiscal year -- is seen as key to paying for Japan's snowballing health and social welfare costs. 

The country's rapidly ageing population is putting pressure on the public purse, while low birth rates are threatening to create a demographic time bomb for the heavily indebted nation.

Japan's projected primary balance deficit -- the shortfall between what the government takes in and what it spends, apart from debt-servicing -- is expected to shrink by 5.2 trillion yen to 18.0 trillion yen.

That means Japan's national debt, now more than twice the size of the economy, will continue to rise, but at a slower pace.

Public spending projects are part of the proposed budget as well as plans to upgrade Japan's defence forces, as China bulks up its military and fears remain over North Korea's nuclear arms potential.

Latest Photo Galleries on xinmsn

NEWS VIDEOS

MORE NEWS VIDEOS

facebook recommendations

LIVE NEWS RADIO STREAMING

  • 938 Live

    938LIVE is Singapore's only English news and talk station which transmits round the clock with an engaging and enticing spread of programmes on current affairs, health, business and lifestyle as well as news every half hour until midnight.

  • Capital 958


    95.8FM城市频道的前身是"第三广播网"。上个世纪30年代末,新加坡就有中文广播,一路走来经过不少政治,社会局势的改变,中文广播在本地一直扮演举足轻重的角色。