(TAKAHASHI Yoichi, PPPC Chairman)
The Cabinet Office on October 29 announced to hold meeting with experts to discuss validity of the next consumption tax hike to 10% scheduled in October 2015 from November 4 at the Cabinet Office. The experts are 42 figures, around half of which were reshuffled from the last year’s members. Still, it is predicted that many, more or less 70%, will likely voice in favor of the tax-hike.
The meeting are scheduled on November 4, 13, 14, 17, 18. What requires attentions is the release of GDP update in July-Sep period scheduled on November 17. Taking the schedule into consideration, discussions will likely flow into such a bureaucratic-prone scenario that the experts first voice necessity of the tax-hike, then negative effects of the past tax-hike will be confirmed by the latest GDP update, then someone will insist urgency of economic measures to mitigate the negative economic impacts.
In the meantime, in the political arena, there is a possibility of Lower House dissolution and a snap election on the issue of whether to suspend the scheduled tax-hike alone. It is possible that the Cabinet compiles outline of the next fiscal year’s budget by suspending the tax-hike and calls a sudden election; lesson from the experience of the Aso administration which was pressured into the Lower House dissolution and consequently lost the power.
More specifically, the schedules are rumored to be Lower House dissolution on November 19 (taian: lucky day on the Japanese calendar) -> election on December 14, one that resembles two years ago when LDP came back to power (Lower House dissolution on November 16 -> election on December 16). After hearing opinions of the experts until November 18, Abe calls on an election by stating he wants to hear opinions of the national public.
The Sundays in December and their auspiciousness are 7 (sensho: a day on which bold actions are supposed to turn out well), 14 (tomobiki: a day on which one's bad luck is thought to affect one's friends), 21 (senbu: a day on which it is supposed to be better to avoid disputes and hurried actions) and 28 (taian). December 28 is the lucky day but it is difficult to do elections in the year-end. Because Dec 21 is the senbu, December 14 will be the right day to call an election, and by calculating back the date November 19 will be the day to dissolve the Lower House; right after the meetings with the experts are finished.
Another alternative is to call a snap election in mid- or end-January by shortly extending the current Diet session scheduled to end on November 30.
The recent Cabinet reshuffle was a temporary one until the next full-scale lineup in the next year, however, the scenario has been upset by resignation of the two female Cabinet members. Still, thanks to the damage-control efforts, the Cabinet and ruling party approval rate has been on the uptick, respectively 50% and 40%. So now the possibility of a snap election has been rumored.