Japanese gov’t iPod tax bid stalled

Advisory panel failed to reach agreement

TOKYO — Makers of portable digital music players for the Japanese market, including the iPod, are breathing easier after a government bid to tax the gadgets has stalled, according to press reports.

The Agency for Cultural Affairs has been pushing for a 1% to 3% tax on the players, with the money going to music producers and creatives, but an agency advisory panel of outside experts, charged with drafting a proposal for legislative change, has failed to reach agreement. As a result, the proposal, which was set to be submitted to Parliament as soon as this fall, is now effectively dead in the water.

However, Makoto Kawase, a director in the agency’s Copyright Division, said the tax may be delayed but is not dead, despite media reports to the contrary. “It will be difficult to pass (the proposal) in its current form,” Kawase admitted, “but we are still committed to the basic concept.”

The goal now, he said, “is to reach a compromise with the various parties involved, which will take some time.” He believes a proposal can be submitted to the next regular session of Parliament, skedded to start in April. “It’s too soon, though, to say what that proposal will look like,” he added.     

The Japanese government has long been pushing for a tax on iPods and similar portable music players, but opposition from electronics makers, who fear that the tax may later spread to other devices as well as impact current profits, has been fierce, bringing about the latest back down.

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