Asia

Japan's Abe says no plans to postpone consumption tax hike

  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to the media during a press conference at his official residence in Tokyo, Tuesday, March 29, 2016. The Prime Minister says there is no change to a planned consumption tax hike next year, denying a growing speculation of a postponement amid suggestions that Japan’s economy is not ready for another one. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to the media during a press conference at his official residence in Tokyo, Tuesday, March 29, 2016. The Prime Minister says there is no change to a planned consumption tax hike next year, denying a growing speculation of a postponement amid suggestions that Japan’s economy is not ready for another one. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)  (The Associated Press)

  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to the media during a press conference at his official residence in Tokyo, Tuesday, March 29, 2016. The Prime Minister says there is no change to a planned consumption tax hike next year, denying a growing speculation of a postponement amid suggestions that Japan’s economy is not ready for another one. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to the media during a press conference at his official residence in Tokyo, Tuesday, March 29, 2016. The Prime Minister says there is no change to a planned consumption tax hike next year, denying a growing speculation of a postponement amid suggestions that Japan’s economy is not ready for another one. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)  (The Associated Press)

  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to the media during a press conference at his official residence in Tokyo, Tuesday, March 29, 2016. The Prime Minister says there is no change to a planned consumption tax hike next year, denying a growing speculation of a postponement amid suggestions that Japan’s economy is not ready for another one. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to the media during a press conference at his official residence in Tokyo, Tuesday, March 29, 2016. The Prime Minister says there is no change to a planned consumption tax hike next year, denying a growing speculation of a postponement amid suggestions that Japan’s economy is not ready for another one. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)  (The Associated Press)

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he has no plans to nix a consumption tax hike planned for next year, denying speculation that it will be postponed amid suggestions that Japan's economy won't be able to handle it.

Speaking at a news conference marking parliament's formal approval Tuesday of the government's 96.7 trillion yen ($850 billion) fiscal 2016 budget, Abe said the tax hike is needed to maintain Japan's welfare system and to secure confidence from markets and the international community.

The tax was due to rise to 10 percent from 8 percent in October, but was deferred until April 2017. Many in Japan are betting that with national elections looming this summer, Abe will be inclined to postpone the hike.