Top Japanese paper slams PM Hashimoto on economy 9.52 p.m. EST (0152 GMT) April 20, 1998 TOKYO, April 21 Japan's largest newspaper, widely seen as close to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, on Tuesday published an unprecedented front page "prescription'' for reviving the country's flagging economy, which it compared to the doomed Titanic. The Yomiuri Shimbun, once a strong supporter of Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, criticised the Japanese leader for his handling of the economy, and called for an end to "faceless'' prime ministers. "Is the Japanese economy destined to share the fate of the Titanic?'' the newspaper said. "There is great concern about the economy, with some analysts comparing it to the doomed ship.'' It gave seven prescriptions for the ailing economy: -- Postpone the target date for reducing fiscal deficits. -- Permanently cut income tax and corporate tax. -- Invest in social infrastructure, including information and telecommunications networks. -- Realise limits to the market economy. -- Make use of public funds to securitise real estate held as collateral. -- Bring an end to "faceless'' prime ministers. -- Stop irresponsible verbal intervention by politicians. The paper's "manifesto'' warned that unless Japan took effective measures, it could trigger worldwide economic chaos. The key to recovery was to switch from fiscal reconstruction to economic stimulation. It prescribed permanent income and resident tax cuts from the current ceiling of 65 percent to a maximum 50 percent. The Yomiuri said Japan needed a forceful leader. "Hashimoto has maintained a low profile, virtually disappearing in times of crisis... The country does not need a wishy-washy prime minister,'' it said. Up to now Japan's bureaucrats have made economic policy, but have been discredited through a series of scandals. The newspaper said politicians should exercise more caution in their new role of launching initiatives, slamming them for making irresponsible remarks which it saw as disrupting financial markets.
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