Shinzo Abe's commitment to reviving the Japanese economy through deregulation came under attack from a close ally as concerns emerged at the Bank of Japan over the fight against deflation, a core element of the prime minister's "Abenomics" agenda.
Hiroshi Mikitani, the internet billionaire who advises the premier as a member of the Industrial Competitiveness Council, threatened to quit in a stinging assessment of the government's handling of drug sales liberalization. "If Mr Abe cannot decide on this, he cannot decide on anything," Mr Mikitani said.
(Read more: The verdict on Abenomics, one year on)
Meanwhile, Bank of Japan board members have voiced concern that incomes are not keeping pace with higher consumer prices. Higher wages are a key component of Mr Abe's plan to end Japan's deflationary cycle and stimulate growth, but he has encountered opposition from business groups.
Mr Mikitani's broadside, delivered at a fiery news conference, exposed deep divisions within Mr Abe's administration over proposals for competitiveness-promoting structural reform. The premier has described such reform as the most crucial element of his campaign to end two decades of economic drift. Yet critics say his ambitions on several other fronts – including labor rules and farmland ownership – have also been delayed or watered down.