Japan PM renews call for tax debate with opposition

TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda renewed his appeal to opposition parties on Tuesday to join talks on tax and social security reforms aimed at keeping in check swelling national borrowing, pointing at the European debt crisis to underscore the urgency of doing so.
Noda aims to submit bills to parliament by March to double the 5 percent sales tax in stages by 2015, and has been asking the opposition bloc to participate in preliminary talks on the legislation to secure passage in a divided legislature.
But the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which was ousted from power in 2009 after more than half a century of almost unbroken rule, says Noda should first call an election for the powerful lower house and seek a fresh mandate.
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