Trade chief Takashi Fukaya promised representatives of small business Thursday that government financial institutions will keep financing startup businesses and firms faced with tight bank lending after the current special measures expire next March, officials of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry said.

Fukaya made the pledge in a meeting with representatives of the National Federation of Small Business Associations; the Central Federation of Societies of Commerce and Industry, Japan; the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and the National Federation of Shopping Center Promotion Associations.

Under the current scheme, eligible startup businesses can borrow up to 5.5 million yen from the Peoples Finance Corporation at the instruction of the Small and Medium Enterprise Agency.

The other special measure enables small firms faced with the credit crunch to borrow a maximum of 80 million yen from government financial institutions in order to keep up their operations.

During the meeting, Fukaya also said the government is considering expanding the special credit guarantee of 20 trillion yen to ease small firms’ fundraising difficulties, and will pay due consideration to their plight in tackling fiscal, tax and other policy measures through the planned stimulus package and extraordinary Diet session.

Koichi Inoue, chairman of the National Federation of Small Business Associations, was quoted as asking Fukaya for persistent stimulative measures, including a large-scale second supplementary budget, because small and medium-size companies remain threatened by severe economic circumstances.

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