Noda officially gives in on tax, welfare reform

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Democratic Party of Japan executives officially endorsed changes to the government’s social security and tax reform bills Wednesday, while signalling the Diet session will be extended, possibly to early September.

Noda was forced to postpone a vote on the revised bills in the Lower House beyond Thursday’s scheduled end of the Diet session, given the fierce opposition from DPJ members against the planned consumption tax hike.

The prime minister had been keen on having the contentious tax hike bill approved before Thursday, but with that bill and other key legislation still hanging fire, the DPJ proposed extending the session to Sept. 8 in a meeting with opposition parties, which didn’t give an immediate answer, party sources said.

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Japan sees record 2.05 million welfare recipients

A record 2.05 million people were living on welfare benefits in Japan in July, beating the previous record set 60 years ago in the aftermath of World War II, the government said Wednesday.

The report released by the Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry said 2,050,495 people received benefits during the month, breaking the previous highest monthly average of 2,046,646 marked in 1951 when Japan started recording the data.

A ministry official said that the latest numbers reflected Japan’s economic doldrums and a rapidly greying society.

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