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Japan approves $18bn in stimulus measures ahead of tax hike

Parliament passes record budget in signal the levy will go up as scheduled

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, and Finance Minister Taro Aso attend an upper house Budget Committee meeting March 27. (Photo by Uichiro Kasai)

TOKYO -- Japanese lawmakers passed a record-breaking fiscal 2019 budget on Wednesday that includes 2.03 trillion yen ($18.4 billion) in measures aimed at softening the impact of a looming consumption tax hike on an economy already facing broader uncertainty.

The 101.46 trillion yen budget, approved by the upper house, includes programs to prop up consumer spending, making it extremely difficult for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to back out of the planned tax increase at this point. The consumption tax is slated to go up to 10% from the current 8% in October.  

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