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Japan has been here before, and the outcome was far from pleasant. Yet it seems the wheels are in motion. The country will double its national sales tax, from 5% to 10%. The move, justified as a way to help the country deal with its precarious fiscal situation, has raised serious concerns, since this kind of tax hike, applied for much the same reason, was widely blamed for the country’s destructive recession in the late 1990s. Though some in Japan claim that the current environment is different, this history, the already weak global economy and Japan’s recent decline into a balance-of-payments deficit argue forcefully for a different route to fiscal reform.

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