(AP) Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided to go ahead with a long debated increase to sales tax next April to 8 percent from the current 5 percent.
Abe announced the decision at a policy meeting Tuesday among ruling party and top government officials. The Cabinet is expected to sign off on the increase later in the day.
The Cabinet is also set to approve tax breaks and other stimulus measures meant to counter the dampening effect on consumer demand that is expected from the sales tax increase.
Japan's public debt is the highest among developed nations as a percentage of GDP. Experts say the tax increase is crucial to getting government finances under control.
The decision comes after a survey showed improved business confidence among Japanese companies.