The Japanese government has revised the nation’s tonnage tax system in response to strong pressure from domestic shipping firms, which say the limited application of the tax has made them less competitive internationally.
The tonnage tax system will be “expanded to cover foreign vessels that are owned by foreign subsidiaries of Japanese ocean-going shipping firms and also meet certain requirements,” according to the written package of tax revisions. The revision, approved by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s cabinet Saturday, is set to take effect in April.
“We are considering expanding the tax system to include flag-of-convenience vessels owned by Japanese companies in such countries as Panama,” said an official of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.
The official said, however, that it remains to be seen how many such vessels will actually be covered by the tax system. The ministry has yet to work out specific requirements that foreign-registered ships need to meet if they are to be covered by the tax system.
JSA Chairman Akimitsu Ashida, who is also Mitsui O.S.K. Lines’ chairman, issued a statement on Monday welcoming the government decision to revise the tonnage tax system as “a step toward leveling the playing field between Japanese and foreign shipping firms.”
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