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Japan considering 3rd batch of coronavirus measures

  • March 11, 2020
  • , Jiji Press , 11:24 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, March 11 (Jiji Press)–Japan’s government and ruling coalition on Wednesday began to consider compiling a third batch of emergency measures to cope with the spread of the new coronavirus, in order to cushion the impacts of the outbreak on the country’s economy.

The move comes only a day after the second such emergency package was announced. The government apparently believes that the package is insufficient, amid concerns over the slowdown of the world economy.

The government and the ruling camp will examine the advisability of compiling a supplementary budget for fiscal 2020 while the regular budget for year starting next month has yet to be enacted, informed sources said.

“We must watch carefully the effects of the new virus on the economy,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a plenary meeting of the House of Councillors, the upper chamber of the Diet, or parliament, on Wednesday.

 

“We will do all we can in terms of economic and fiscal policy management.”

A plan to provide 30,000 yen each to households with children is being discussed as part of the third package, while the scale of the potential supplementary budget is expected to be between 10 trillion yen and 20 trillion yen, according to the sources.

The government and the ruling bloc, led by the Liberal Democratic Party, have not officially started work on the supplementary budget, due to concerns that such moves may affect ongoing Diet deliberations on the fiscal 2020 regular budget. They hope to begin preparations for the supplementary budget soon after the Diet passes the regular budget possibly late this month.

The LDP and its Komeito ally held a regular breakfast meeting among their secretaries-general and Diet affairs chiefs in Tokyo on Wednesday.

The meeting was also attended by policy chiefs of the two parties. In a rare move, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and Assistant Chief Cabinet Secretary Kazuyuki Furuya, who is in charge of domestic political affairs, were also invited to the meeting from the government side.

The participants agreed to closely monitor the economic situation and take additional measures if necessary.

Also on Wednesday, the LDP held a meeting of its economic growth strategy headquarters, conducting hearings with people invited from the agriculture, forestry and fishery industries about current conditions. Many of the invitees claimed that they are in very difficult situations.

“We need to prepare drastic economic measures,” LDP policy chief Fumio Kishida said at a meeting with heads of LDP divisions, held later in the day, instructing them to draw up specific proposals by the end of the month.

The government’s second batch of emergency measures against the coronavirus features aid for workers taking leave to take care of their children due to government-requested school closures, expanded virus tests and the creation of a special loan program for small firms and microenterprises.

The package includes some 1.6 trillion yen in financial measures through state-backed lenders and the use of 430 billion yen in government funds.

But a source close to the prime minister said the package’s measures will only be carried out within the confines of the current budget.

A group of young LDP lawmakers has submitted to economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura a set of proposals, including the compilation of a supplementary budget of around 30 trillion yen and a freeze on the consumption tax.

“We must take action without being bound by precedent,” Nishimura told them.

 

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