Japan PM in 11th-hour bid to save tax hike plan
TOKYO (AFP) - Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda was scrambling on Wednesday to save his prized consumption tax bill after the main opposition threatened to withdraw support unless a general election is called.
Mr Noda had looked to be on the home straight of a long and difficult bid to double sales tax and help plug Japan's gaping budgetary hole with a final upper house vote on the legislation pegged for Wednesday.
But political manoeuvring by the opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) forced the premier into pledging an election "in the near future" once the legislation is approved.
Mr Noda, a former finance minister, has put his political life on the line to hike the five-percent consumption tax in what experts have hailed as a sensible way for Japan to begin tackling its huge mountain of debt.