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Japan eyes new tax to fund forests

Individuals would pay about $10 a year to fight global warming

The new levy would help pay for efforts to cultivate healthy forests in Japan.

TOKYO -- The Japanese government plans to launch a new tax in fiscal 2020 or later to fund the conservation and management of forests, though questions remain as to its effectiveness against carbon dioxide emissions and other environmental threats.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party's Research Commission on the Tax System met Wednesday to kick off discussions on tax reforms to be passed next fiscal year.

Each of the nation's 62 million taxpaying residents would fork over 1,000 yen a year for the new levy, raising a total of 62 billion yen ($555 million) to help municipalities manage forests and forest roads, as well as train forestry workers.

The Forestry Agency is pushing for implementing the tax in fiscal 2019, when it launches a new system allowing unused forest to be leased out to companies. But LDP tax research chief Yoichi Miyazawa said that it "should not coincide with the consumption tax hike" planned for October 2019.

Others say the forest tax should wait until fiscal 2024, when the current 1,000 yen annual surtax to fund reconstruction efforts for the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami ends.

There are also questions on how to prevent double taxation, since certain municipalities have already introduced local taxes to pay for forest management.


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