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Economy

Japan's retail sales plunge following tax hike and typhoons

Weak demand for big ticket items behind biggest decline since 2015

The dismal retail environment has prompted calls for government stimulus spending to keep the country's economy moving.

TOKYO (Reuters) -- Japan's retail sales tumbled at their fastest pace in more than 4-1/2 years in October as a sales tax hike prompted consumers to cut spending, raising a red flag over the strength of domestic demand.

The Japanese government increased the nationwide sales tax to 10% from 8% on Oct. 1, in a bid to fix the industrial world's heaviest public debt burden, which is more twice the size the country's gross domestic product.

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