• Kyodo News


The government decided Tuesday at a meeting of a key economic policy panel to use the fiscal 2010 budget to try to steer Japan out of the global economic crisis and strengthen social security.

Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano said the government may set aside special reserves in the budget to address these two key areas that have been a prime focus for Prime Minister Taro Aso.

“We’re ready to boldly tackle politically sensitive challenges,” Yosano quoted Aso as saying at the meeting of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, which the prime minister heads. “We’re ready to distribute and concentrate human resources and the budget to our top priority issues.”

The government aims to expand job opportunities for young people, enhance ties with neighboring countries and boost private investment to stem carbon dioxide emissions.

The provisions were part of the latest draft of the government’s annual fiscal policy guidelines due out later this month. The draft, approved by the panel, includes the government’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, which Aso laid out last week.

According to the draft, the government will aim to achieve a surplus in the primary balance at both national and local levels by the end of fiscal 2019. A primary balance surplus means that revenue matches spending, excluding debt payments.

The government will aim to halve the ratio of the primary balance deficit to the nation’s gross domestic product by the end of March 2014, the draft says.

The government has recently lowered its target as it grapples with swelling public spending to cover social security costs and finance stimulus measures to combat the recession.

But the draft suggests the government will maintain its basic policy of stemming ballooning social security costs, as advocated by the administration of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi during his tenure from 2001 to 2006.

Yosano said the government will increase efficiency to cut costs while beefing up some functions to meet essential social security needs.

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