• Jiji


The government is in the final stages of talks on increasing Japan’s monthly child allowance by ¥10,000 per head to support families hit by the coronavirus pandemic, it was learned Sunday.

The measure will be included in the emergency economic support package expected to be drawn up on Tuesday.

“The government is considering raising the amount of child allowances,” economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said on a television program on Sunday.

The allowances are distributed for children of junior high school age or younger. The monthly amount for families with stay-at-home mothers and two children with an annual income of less than ¥9.6 million ranges from ¥10,000 to ¥15,000 per child.

Komeito, the junior coalition partner of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, has been calling for a hike of about ¥10,000 in the monthly payout to ease the burden on child-rearing families caused by the emergency school closures Prime Minister Shinzo Abe requested to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

Child-rearing families with annual incomes exceeding the limits set for the allowance program but who are receiving ¥5,000 per child monthly anyway as an exceptional measure are expected to be excluded from the envisaged ¥10,000 hike, informed sources said.

The government’s economic support package meanwhile is also set to include a one-time cash handout of ¥300,000 for each household whose income has fallen to a certain level, plus corporate support for increasing the production of Japan’s flu drug Avigan, which is thought to be effective in treating COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

On the TV program, Nishimura said the government will support companies that produce materials used to make Avigan, which was developed by an affiliate of Fujifilm Holdings Corp.

The government is also poised to provide support for increasing the production of ventilators and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, devices, which can be used to treat severely ill COVID-19 patients.

Another important challenge for the government is how to bolster the private sector during the fight against the coronavirus, which is expected to take time.

To support fundraising for companies, including large firms, the government plans to set trillions of yen in loan quotas for state-backed lenders like the Development Bank of Japan.

Regarding financial support for Japan’s battered airlines, however, Nishimura said on a different TV program Sunday that the Regional Economy Vitalization Corp. of Japan (REVIC) might play a role in the crisis. The public-private investment fund’s operations include turning around troubled small businesses.

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