Japan's lower house passes sales tax bill

Japan's lower house of parliament has approved Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's controversial plan to double sales tax, but the vote laid bare a deep rift in the ruling party.
Japanese broadcaster NHK reported that 57 ruling party lawmakers failed to back the bill.
These included party founder Ichiro Ozawa, who has indicated he could form a new political party.
If others were to follow him, Mr Noda could be forced to call an election.
Mr Noda says doubling the tax from 5% to 10% is key to cutting Japan's high public debt and funding rising welfare costs.


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