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Japan to suspend gasoline tax if pump prices surge

Japan’s government will suspend a planned gasoline tax if pump prices surge near highs seen in 2008, the nation’s tax panel said, to offer relief to motorists. The ruling Democratic Party of Japan had pledged to end a decades-old gasoline tax during last year’s election campaign, but it decided to replace this tax from April with a new surcharge at the same rate due to falling tax revenues. The new system calls for the tax of 25 yen (US$0.28) per liter to be suspended if the pump price of regular gasoline averages above 160 yen (US$1.77) per liter for three straight months, the tax panel said. The tax will remain suspended until the average price, to be taken from a monthly survey issued by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, stays below 130 yen (US$1.44) per liter for three consecutive months. (January 20, 2010)