Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Tuesday he has decided to raise the consumption tax next April as planned. \"In order to maintain confidence in Japan and pass sustainable social security to the next generation, I have decided to raise the sales tax rate to 8 percent from 5 percent on April 1, 2014,\" Abe said at a joint policy meeting of the government and the ruling coalition parties. Abe also said the government will provide an economic stimulus package to minimize the negative impact on businesses and households from the tax hike. The government has proposed to raise the consumption tax to restore the country\'s fiscal health, with its public debt reaching more than 200 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Earlier in the day, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) said business confidence among major Japanese manufacturers in the July-September period rose to a nearly six-year high. Japan\'s GDP expanded at an annual 3.8 percent pace in the second quarter for the third straight quarter of growth. Abe has said he will make a final decision by early October on whether to go ahead with the April tax hike after examining various economic data, including the results of the BOJ\'s quarterly business sentiment survey. Abe, who took office last December, has promoted his ambitious economic policies called \"Abenomics\" platform to boost Japan\'s economy and to overcome the deflation that has lasted for nearly 15 years.