All national papers highlighted the enactment on Thursday of the FY2020 supplementary budget worth 25.7 trillion yen ($240 billion) designed to combat the novel coronavirus, including funds for cash handouts of 100,000 yen for all residents. The dailies wrote that in putting together the stimulus package, the Abe administration heeded various requests from ruling and opposition parties for spending programs, such as emergency loans for small businesses, unemployment benefits for laid-off workers, and other subsidies to help alleviate the pandemic’s impact in view of the growing disapproval of the prime minister’s handling of the public health crisis.
Mainichi noted that only 727 billion yen ($6.8 billion), or a mere 3%, of the entire budget was allocated for the Health Ministry, claiming that with this “modest amount,” the ministry’s goal of boosting PCR tests and hospital capacity to treat COVID-19 patients will probably be difficult to achieve. Sankei projected that the pump-priming package may not be strong enough to jumpstart the Japanese economy, emphasizing that more PCR testing will be necessary to resume economic activities swiftly. Asahi and Yomiuri noted that calls are already emerging within both the ruling and opposition camps for the GOJ to draw up an additional spending package based on the view that it will probably take many months to bring the outbreak under control.