Photo/IllutrationPrime Minister Shinzo Abe starts a Cabinet meeting on Dec. 21. Third from right is Finance Minister Taro Aso. (Takeshi Iwashita)

The government on Dec. 21 approved an initial budget plan for fiscal 2019 that includes a general account exceeding 100 trillion yen ($900 billion) for the first time and spending on tax-hike preparations.

The general account stood at 101.456 trillion yen, up 3.8 percent from the corresponding plan for fiscal 2018 and renewing the record high for the seventh straight year.

Tax revenues in fiscal 2019 are expected to reach 62.495 trillion yen, up 5.8 percent from fiscal 2018 and marking the largest amount in 29 years. The projected figure exceeds the 60.1 trillion yen for fiscal 1990 during the asset-inflated bubble economy.

The tax revenue increase is due to a recovery in economic conditions and the scheduled hike in the consumption tax rate in October from 8 percent to 10 percent.

The issuance of new government bonds is expected to produce 32.66 trillion yen in revenue and will cover about 32.2 percent of the budget plan.

Although that means new debts for the government, bond issuance will be down 3.1 percent from fiscal 2018 and mark the ninth straight annual decrease.

The increase in government expenditures in fiscal 2019 is mainly attributable to extraordinary measures to prepare for the tax hike.

For example, 279.8 billion yen was earmarked for a program offering points to shoppers who make cashless payments.

The government also set aside 208.5 billion yen to support purchases of homes and 172.3 billion yen for premium merchandise coupons.

The budget plan, approved in a Cabinet meeting, includes 1.348 trillion yen for emergency measures to heighten functions of important infrastructure facilities.

Expenditures for social security programs, which account for about one-third of all spending, stood at 34.059 trillion yen, up more than 1 trillion yen from the initial budget plan for fiscal 2018.

To deal with the aging population, expenditures for such services as medical treatment and nursing care jumped by 476.8 billion yen. In addition, 480.8 billion yen was earmarked to provide free education for toddlers, offer benefits to low-income pensioners, and other programs.

The defense budget of 5.257 trillion yen was the largest for the fifth straight year. It includes increased expenditures for the new Medium-Term Defense Force Buildup Program, as well as new fields, such as outer space and cybersecurity, which were newly described in the National Defense Program Guidelines.