The politics of tax increases

―Japan’s Shōhizei consumption tax in comparative perspective―

October 27, 2016 6:30 PM (finished)

Junko KATO

(University of Tokyo)

Date/Time October 27, 2016 6:30 PM
Location Room 549 5th floor, Akamon Sogo Kenkyuto Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo  [map]
Abstract Why has Prime Minister Abe Shinzo repeatedly delayed increasing Japan’s consumption tax rate even though it is much lower than in other countries? Why has the Japanese government accumulated the largest debt despite maintaining the lowest level of taxation among mature democracies? I will solve these puzzles by placing Japanese tax politics in comparative perspective. Japan is a critical case that embodies a path-dependency in tax politics. In most advanced democracies, the institutionalization of effective revenue raising during the period of high growth consolidated state funding capacity. Japan, however, failed to introduce effective revenue measures before the end of high growth and has therefore confronted strong opposition to tax increases. Extending further this implication from my previous work (Kato 2003), I will analyze the politics of shohizei for the last three decades. Since the 1990s, Japan has experienced continuous changes in party politics, including the breakup of the predominant Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the formation of the LDP-centered coalition government, and alterations in partisan rule. Nonetheless, Japanese tax politics has remained intact. This consequence will be explained by comparing Japan with other countries.
Bio Junko Kato (Ph.D., Yale University) is Professor of Political Science at the University of Tokyo. She has conducted research in comparative politics on taxation and the welfare state, party coalitions and government formation, and neuro-cognitive analyses of political behavior. She has authored articles in numerous journals, including American Political Science Review and British Journal of Political Science. She has authored two books: The Problem of Bureaucratic Rationality (Princeton University Press, 1994) and Regressive Taxation and the Welfare State (Cambridge University Press, 2003) in addition to numerous book chapters. She has been a member of the Editorial Board of British Journal of Political Science, Japanese Journal of Political Science, Perspectives on Public Management and Governance, and Asian Journal of Comparative Politics. Since 2006, she has launched interdisciplinary research applying a neuro-cognitive approach to the analysis of political behavior.She has published articles on fMRI experiments of political behavior in Frontiers in Neuroscience and on the geometric modeling of political similarity judgment in PLos ONE.