• Kyodo

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Budget requests by Japan’s central government offices for the new fiscal year from next April are set to total a record ¥102 trillion ($853 billion), due primarily to social security spending growth in a rapidly aging society, government sources said Tuesday.

The requests for the general-account budget for fiscal 2016 are likely to exceed by some ¥6 trillion the initial budget layout for the current fiscal year through March 31, 2016, which totaled ¥96.34 trillion.

The spending requests will include a record ¥26.54 trillion to service growing government debt, up 11.1 percent from the initial budget in fiscal 2015. Of the amount, ¥15.21 trillion will go to government bond redemption and ¥10.81 trillion to interest payments.

The remainder of the requests will comprise policy spending, including some ¥31 trillion on pension, health care and other social security programs.

The Finance Ministry will accept budget requests from other government agencies until next Monday and screen them to lower the total in a run-up to drafting a fiscal 2016 budget later this year.

The focus will be on how much the nation’s runaway social security costs can be reined in. But given the growing concern over the economy amid turmoil in financial markets, the government may come under pressure for larger spending.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare will request some ¥30.6 trillion, including ¥670 billion to be added to social security spending due to natural causes. It will also request new subsidies to companies that hire young job-seeking university graduates as full-time employees.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will seek a 14.8 percent increase in its total spending from the previous year to ¥2.65 trillion, mainly to support agriculture.

The education ministry will call for increasing the number of teachers for public elementary and junior high school education by 3,040 to promote smaller class sizes and address bullying, truancy and other problems afflicting schools.

The ministry’s initiative to increase the number of teachers may fall flat, though, given the Finance Ministry has called for a reduction in schoolteachers amid a decrease in the number of children.

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