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AOMORI (Kyodo) Two villages, one in Aomori and the other in Hokkaido, on Thursday became the first municipalities to hand out cash to their residents under Prime Minister Taro Aso’s controversial cash benefit plan.

The village office in Nishimeya, Aomori Prefecture, a World Natural Heritage site located at the foot of the Shirakami Mountains, started handing out cash to 1,595 people from 537 households. Children up to 18 years old and seniors 65 or older receive an extra ¥8,000 on top of the basic ¥12,000 handout.

In all, village officials said they expect to pay out ¥25.46 million. About 400 households have so far applied for the cash, they said.

Meanwhile, in the Hokkaido village of Nishiokoppe, near the Sea of Okhotsk, nearly half of the 656 households have applied for the money.

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