Continuing the policy that got it to where it is:
August 23 (Kyodo) — Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda instructed other Cabinet members Tuesday to cut policy spending by 10 percent in the fiscal 2012 budget from the current year, aiming to secure funds that would help cover burgeoning welfare costs in Japan and reflect the policy priority of a new prime minister.
The government decided to delay by a month the deadline for its offices to submit their request for the state budget, in a move to concentrate more on reconstruction work following the March earthquake and tsunami.
Noda also ordered government spending of no more than 71 trillion yen ($924.5 billion), excluding costs to service existing debt, in the year starting next April and capping the issuance of new bonds at 44 trillion yen, both at the same level as the fiscal 2011 budget.
But spending and debt issuance necessary for quake-relief efforts will be managed separately from the capping rules, as the government intends to issue reconstruction bonds that would be serviced with proceeds from provisional tax hikes, although there remains opposition to the idea even within the ruling coalition.
The envisaged 10 percent policy spending cut would lead the government to secure 1.2 trillion yen.
Combined with some tax revenue hikes, the government will secure 1.7 trillion yen to cover an annual increase of nearly 1.2 trillion yen in social security costs, which have been growing amid the aging population, and 600 billion yen which would reflect the policy priority of a new prime minister succeeding the incumbent, Naoto Kan, who is certain to step down within this month.
The instruction came before the Cabinet approves in mid-September the guidelines for submission of budget requests by ministries and agencies, a process that has been delayed this year due to the March 11 disaster.
The government offices normally file their requests with the Finance Ministry at the end of August and the government formulates a national budget in December for a new fiscal year starting April 1.
The Cabinet decided Tuesday on a government ordinance to postpone the deadline for submission, effective Friday.
The delay comes as the government focuses on reconstruction work, which has required it to make separate budgetary arrangements. Japan has already implemented two extra budgets for fiscal 2011 and is considering a third that could be bigger than the previous two.