• Jiji

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Japan’s two biggest business associations are calling on the government to take bold measures to prevent companies hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak from going bankrupt.

They want the government, which is considering compiling a stimulus package to deal with the economic impact of the pandemic, to help businesses secure the funds and workers they need to stay afloat.

The business community is also emphasizing the need for large-scale economic measures to be implemented after the pandemic is contained.

“The first thing we should do is take emergency measures to prevent bankruptcies and business closures, without being bound by precedent,” Akio Mimura, chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told a hastily arranged news conference Monday.

Mimura called on the government to establish a cash benefit system to help affected small businesses and microenterprises continue operations and develop a program in which financial institutions, including private-sector entities, swiftly provide such companies with zero-interest and unsecured loans.

Keidanren (the Japan Business Federation) separately proposed measures in response to the viral outbreak, saying that it will put top priority on maintaining jobs.

The country’s largest business lobby also called on the government to establish a benchmark for economic activities that should be maintained to avoid an excessive contraction in case it declares a state of emergency over the coronavirus crisis.

On the recruitment of new graduates, Keidanren said creation of a new “employment ice age generation” must be avoided at all costs and called on member companies to take every possible measure, such as being flexible about their recruitment schedules, to reduce concerns among students.

The term “employment ice age generation” refers to people who graduated between roughly 1993 and 2004, after the collapse of the bubble economy in the early 1990s. Many of them, who are now in their 30s and 40s, have been unable to find stable jobs.