Japanese government to begin cash handouts to households in May due to COVID-19


The Japanese government said Tuesday its plan to provide cash handouts to households whose income has suffered as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak will begin in May.

Japanese Economic Revitalization Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura confirmed the plan, agreed by the government at the beginning of April, at a press conference on Tuesday.

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

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 Yoshihide Suga said Tuesday.

Chief Cabinet Secretary 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.

He added, however, that extenuating circumstances related to households would be taken into consideration in issuing the handouts.

On April 3, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) initially agreed on the cash handout plans amid the virus pandemic.

LDP policy chief Fumio Kishida said 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.

Kishida said the agreement was reached with the prime minister and the amount was decided upon based on a number of factors including average household numbers.

The amount initially floated by the government was a cash handout of 200,000 yen to each household, but was increased by 100,000 yen with Abe agreeing that households required more substantial support amid such trying times.

The government would provide the cash as soon as possible to the households, Abe said, noting that small and medium-sized businesses have also suffered hardships due to the pandemic.

The financial support for households whose income has dropped to a certain level as a result of the coronavirus will be allocated from the supplementary budget for this fiscal year, the government has confirmed.

The cash handouts will be made without setting an income limit and will be tax free, government officials added, although an unprecedented method of judging which households are eligible for the payment will be implemented, Nishimura said.

He said that if an income limit were to be set, then individual incomes would have to be checked and verified, which would take a great deal of time and result in those in desperate need of financial support not getting the cash they need at the earliest juncture.

In a bid to avoid such delays, Nishimura said an unprecedented way to judge who should receive the cash would be implemented.

He said that the handouts would be made to those in need whose lives had become difficult due to falling income as a result of the pandemic.

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, Nishimura also said. (1 U.S. dollar = 107.33 Japanese yen) Enditem

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