TOKYO—Japan’s new Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, said on Sunday he won’t seek to change the country’s taxes on capital gains and dividends for now as he intends to pursue other steps for better wealth distribution, such as raising wages of medical workers.
Kishida, who has vowed to rectify wealth disparities, had previously said reviewing those taxes would be an option in addressing income gaps.
The premier’s new stance indicates his concern about jitters in the stock market caused by the prospects of higher tax levies.
Kishida took the top job in the world’s third-largest economy on Monday, replacing Yoshihide Suga, who had seen his support undermined by surging COVID-19 infections.
“I have no plan to touch the financial income tax for the time being … There are many other things to tackle first,” Kishida told a news programme on commercial broadcaster Fuji Television Network.
“Misunderstanding is spreading that I may do it soon. That will give unnecessary worry to people concerned, if not dispelled firmly.”
Some investors have expressed concern that the new premier may press ahead with capital-gains tax hikes, signalling a turnaround from investor friendly economic policies pursued by Japan’s longest-serving premier, Shinzo Abe, from 2013 to 2020.
Some analysts had called for raising Japan’s tax levied on investment income from the current 20 percent to raise more from the rich and fund steps to support low-income households.
Others were sceptical about the impact such tax hikes may have on correcting wealth disparities.
Kishida’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) made no mention of reviewing taxes on capital gains and dividends in its campaign platform for the Oct. 31 general elections, a draft obtained by Reuters showed.
Investors had been concerned about any negative impact a higher tax rate on capital gains and dividends could have on stock markets, which could cool local investment and drive away foreigners.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei average has declined 7 percent since Kishida won the LDP leadership election late last month.