TOKYO -- By a slight margin, the majority of Japanese households plan to maintain spending levels after the 5% consumption tax rises to 8% on April 1, a survey conducted by Nikkei and TV Tokyo finds.
While 51% of respondents said they will continue to spend as much as before, 44% plan to tighten their belts.
Even with a growing number of companies agreeing to raise pay in this year's wage negotiations, just 12% of respondents said they expect household income to grow and 83% do not. Many households are not feeling the virtuous cycle promoted by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in which higher corporate earnings lead to higher wages.
The cabinet's approval rating climbed 3 percentage points from last month's survey to 59%, while its disapproval rating dipped 4 points to 29%. The approval gauge rose for the first time since January. When those approving of the cabinet were asked why, with multiple responses allowed, its stability came out on top at 31%, and 28% of respondents cited its strong leadership.
Plans call for the consumption tax go up to 10% in October 2015, and Abe intends to make a final decision by the end of this year. Respondents for this second-stage increase declined 2 percentage points to 29%, while those against it rose 2 points to 64%.
Of the opponents, 49% said the measure should be dropped altogether, 23% said it ought to be delayed, and 23% said it should be smaller.
Respondents also weighed in on nuclear power in Japan. Half said it should be phased out; 28% called for gradually reducing the number of plants, with a few continuing to operate; and 8% said the atom should remain a key source of energy.
The March 21-23 survey targeted 1,527 households via random-digit dialing, receiving valid responses from 1,059, or 69.4%.