TOKYO, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Monday that he would first realize economic growth in Japan before redistributing wealth, during questioning by opposition lawmakers over his policy speech last week ahead of a House of Representatives election.
Kishida emphasized that he would not immediately seek to increase the tax rate on capital gains or other financial assets, saying, "Unless there is growth there is nothing to distribute. It is important to seek growth first, and I will do my utmost to realize it," in response to questions by Yukio Edano, head of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, in the lower house.
Brokers said that the potential tax hike from Kishida's government partly triggered the sharp decline in Tokyo stocks last week.
The prime minister gave his policy speech on Friday and pledged to realize a virtuous cycle of economic growth and redistribution of its success. The envisioned tax hike on capital gains and dividends is a major pillar of Kishida's policy to redistribute wealth and reduce income disparities.
As his position apparently dragged down the market sentiment, Kishida clarified in a TV show on Sunday that he would not consider changing the tax for the time being, and that there was a widespread misunderstanding about it.
Edano also attacked the COVID-19 response of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's leading government, as there were many COVID-19 patients who died because they were forced to recuperate at home due to a shortage of hospital beds in the fifth wave of infections this summer.
In response, Kishida said that he would soon present an outline of his COVID-19 response, which addressed the issue of hospital beds shortage. He also mentioned improving border controls and strengthening the COVID-19 testing system in Japan.
In addition, Kishida said that he would quickly decide on economic stimulus measures to aid businesses and people who suffered from the pandemic. Enditem