Yoshihide Suga, the front-runner to become Japan’s next prime minister, repeated his calls for lower mobile phone fees ahead of elections this week expected to land him the country’s top job.
“Some may say that its wrong for the government to meddle in what private companies are doing, but phone radio waves belong to the people,” Suga said in an interview Sunday on Fuji TV. “The top three firms have monopolized 90% of the share and competition isn’t working.”
Suga is the clear favorite to win party elections Monday and take over from Shinzo Abe as prime minister with the job of digging Japan out of its worst economic slump in decades. Abe is stepping down due to health issues.
Japan’s Continuity Candidate Suga Could Also Dial In Reform
Suga has pledged to keep the ultra-easy monetary policy of Abenomics, but his concern about the high cost of mobile phone service suggests pleasing consumers may be a higher priority for him than reaching the Bank of Japan’s 2% inflation target quickly or keeping boardroom executives happy.
Suga said cell phone fees for consumers could be cut by 40%. In particular, he said he wants the cost of plans with large data packages to come down further. He added that the government should consider charging the carriers more for the use of public radio waves as a way to generate more revenue.
Shares of Japan’s top telecoms have dropped since Suga announced his candidacy, even as the overall market rose.NTT Docomo Inc. declined 2.1%, KDDI Corp. fell 1.5%, andSoftbank Corp. slid 5%.
On the question of Japan’s growing public debt, Suga said he’s against setting any limit on bond issuances given the current crisis, although he said he still sees the need for fiscal discipline.
Speaking later on public broadcaster NHK, Suga said Japan’s pandemic-hit economy might need more fiscal stimulus than what remains in current reserve funds.
“If more is necessary beyond that,” he said, “we’ll respond as needed.”
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