TOKYO (AP) — Japan's prime minister has pledged to push ahead with tax and social security reform and called on opposition politicians to cooperate to achieve "decisive politics."
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's speech kicks off what is expected to be a contentious parliamentary session dominated by debate over Noda's goal to raise the sales tax and reduce the country's fiscal deficit.
Noda has promised to submit a bill by end of March to double the 5 percent sales tax by 2015.
The plan has divided parliament and the ruling Democratic party.
Noda also pledged Tuesday to step up efforts to decontaminate the region around the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant from radioactive fallout, ensure health checks and compensation for those affected by the crisis.