Japan’s PM Noda Asks Fiscal Hawk Okada to Be DPM

Japan’s prime minister, faced with sinking popularity rates and hostile opposition, has asked ruling party heavyweight Katsuya Okada, a fiscal hawk, to become his deputy to oversee tax and social security reform, domestic media reported on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda hopes that drafting Okada, who has held key government and party posts in the past, would boost the government’s chances of pushing through an increase in Japan’s 5 percent sales tax to fund swelling social welfare costs, the Asahi and other major newspapers said.

The government plans to submit bills by March to double theĀ  sales tax in two stages by 2015, but their passage is uncertain as opposition parties can use their control of parliament’s upper house to block legislation.

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