Japan's Abe to delay sales tax hike until 2019: Government source

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaking during a press conference at the G7 Ise-Shima Summit in Shima, Japan.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaking during a press conference at the G7 Ise-Shima Summit in Shima, Japan. PHOTO: EPA

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to delay an increase in Japan's sales tax by two and a half years, a government official said on Sunday, as the economy sputters and Abe prepares for a national election.

Abe told Finance Minister Taro Aso and the secretary general of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Sadakazu Tanigaki, on Saturday of his plan to propose delaying the tax hike for a second time, until October 2019, said the official, who was briefed on the meeting.

After chairing a summit of Group of Seven leaders on Friday, Abe said Japan would mobilise all policies needed - including the possibility of delaying the tax hike - to avoid what he called an economic crisis on the scale of the global financial crisis that followed the 2008 Lehman Brothers bankruptcy.

The prime minister will announce his intention by the end of the current session of parliament on Wednesday, after meeting with Natsuo Yamaguchi, the head of the LDP's junior coalition partner, Komeito, the government official told Reuters.