Tokyo, July 29 (Jiji Press)–Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga plans to instruct the government and ruling Liberal Democratic Party to draw up an additional economic package to support citizens’ lives amid the novel coronavirus crisis, according to informed sources.
The LDP and its junior coalition partner, Komeito, are expected to compile a proposal as early as the first half of September, so that it can be promoted during campaigning for the general election slated to take place by autumn.
Suga is seen instructing the creation of the package in addition to the strengthening of coronavirus infection prevention measures, such as the expansion of the ongoing state of emergency.
Suga hopes to pass the measures as part of a fiscal 2021 supplementary budget after the election for the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of Japan’s parliament.
“I want to engage in agile macroeconomic management in line with the circumstances and without hesitation, while consulting the prime minister,” economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who is in charge of the government’s coronavirus response, said Thursday.
The comment came in an off-session meeting of the Cabinet Committee of the House of Councillors, the upper chamber, after a lawmaker from Komeito asserted the need for a supplementary budget.
The ruling bloc is increasingly pressuring the government to increase spending ahead of the Lower House election, with former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe saying that “the government needs to prop up the economy now.”
Suga is expected to formally order the compilation of economic measures soon. “We’ll respond flexibly while looking at the circumstances,” he said.
At a press conference on Wednesday, LDP policy chief Hakubun Shimomura said, “We want to prepare behind the scenes so that we can act as soon as the prime minister gives an instruction.” He also said, “We’ll consider a bold economic package.”
On the scale of the additional economic package, LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai argued that it should be “around 30 trillion yen.”
In addition to financial support measures such as cash handouts of 100,000 yen to struggling households, the package may feature aid programs for restaurants and bars, hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, such as increasing funding for the business restructuring subsidy, the sources said.
There are also proposals to earmark money for revitalizing the semiconductor industry and for creating a decarbonized society, for the post-coronavirus economy, according to the sources.
With the prime minister expected to dissolve the Lower House and call a snap election soon after the Tokyo Paralympics end on Sept. 5, parliamentary debate on the supplementary budget is likely to be held in a special parliamentary session after the election or an extraordinary session.
Until then, the government hopes to utilize the roughly 30 trillion yen in carryover funds from past budgets to finance economic measures.
However, the government may face calls to bring forward debate on the supplementary budget if the state of novel coronavirus infections forces Suga to push back his plan for the dissolution of the lower chamber.