Japan government mulls US$930 “across-the board” cash handout to all


In a further bid to try and help cushion the economic impact on society amid the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the Japanese government is mulling providing 100,000 yen (931 U.S. dollars) to each people, government officials said on Wednesday.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s Komeito coalition ally reportedly made the latest cash handout suggestion to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, saying the government needed to send a firm message to the public that it is doing everything in its power to curb and mitigate the economic fallout from the virus.

Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi was quoted as saying in a meeting with Abe at his office that the government “needs to send a strong message to the public that it will do all it can.”

The latest cash handout proposal, if it comes to fruition, would be made to all people regardless of income.

The government is currently looking into the feasibility of the plan with Abe telling Yamaguchi that he will consider the proposal.

Following the meeting between the pair, Yamaguchi told reporters that the impact of the virus has reached a new level and is impacting the economy and society more and more.

“Since a state of emergency was declared by the government on April 7, we’ve entered a different phase, its impact on the economy and society is spreading further,” Yamaguchi said.

“It’s important the Japanese people get the message that the government is ready to respond to do anything it can in a speedy manner,” he added.

The latest cash handout plan differs from one that the government said will begin in May.

Under that initiative, the government said it will provide 300,000 yen (about 2,800 U.S. dollars), to households whose monthly income has dropped to a certain level in one month between February to June as a result of the virus.

The exact details of the cash payments, including who exactly qualifies for the subsidies and the assessment criteria, are still being worked out by the internal affairs ministry, Japan’s top government spokesperson Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tuesday.

Suga said the procedure will be kept simple and will involve the heads of households in Japan being given the cash handouts based on the amount of income lost due to the virus.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary added, however, that extenuating circumstances related to households would be taken into consideration in issuing the handouts.

On April 3, Abe and his ruling LDP initially agreed on the cash handout plan amid the virus pandemic, with LDP policy chief Fumio Kishida saying at the time he told the prime minister that 300,000 yen should be given to each household whose income had decreased to a certain level owing to the outbreak.

Japan’s Economic Revitalization Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura confirmed the plan at a press conference on Tuesday.

High income earners, such as politicians and corporate executives, among others, whose livelihoods had clearly not been affected by the pandemic would not qualify for the financial support, under the first cash handout plan, it has been revealed.

The initial cash handout plan, to be financed by Japan’s largest-ever 108 trillion yen (about 1 trillion U.S. dollars) economic stimulus package, has drawn criticism for not clearly identifying who qualifies for the financial aid.

Under the Komeito-inspired initiative that may follow May’s handout, 100,000 yen would be given to everyone across-the-board, regardless of income.

The government is planning to submit its supplementary budget for fiscal 2020 to parliament next week, but if Abe green-lights the new 100,000 yen cash handout program, another extra budget would have to be drafted and passed by parliament.

Japan’s top government spokesperson said that the government’s priority right now is to ensure parliament passes the extra budget to be submitted next week.

“The prime minister responded to Yamaguchi that he will consider it. That’s all I can say now,” Suga told a press briefing on the matter. Enditem

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