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The Bank of Japan on Tuesday decided to expand its financing support for businesses hit by the novel coronavirus pandemic, while maintaining its ultraeasy monetary policy in a bid to underpin the country’s economy.

The central bank decided at its policy meeting to further boost its ¥75 trillion ($700 billion) corporate support measures to ¥110 trillion.

It left short-term interest rates at minus 0.1 percent while continuing to guide long-term rates to around zero percent, alongside an aggressive asset purchase program.

The expanded corporate financing support comes after the BOJ decided last month to introduce a ¥30 trillion interest-free loan scheme targeted at small and medium-sized companies, and a similar ¥25 trillion program for large firms, in addition to its annual targets for corporate bond and commercial paper purchases worth up to ¥20 trillion.

“Japan’s economy has been in an extremely severe situation due to the impact of the novel coronavirus,” the BOJ said in a statement released after its two-day meeting.

As for the economic outlook, the central bank said the country’s economy “is likely to remain in a severe situation for the time being,” but it is expected to “improve, supported by accommodative financial conditions and the government’s economic measures” as the impact of COVID-19 subsides.

The BOJ scrapped the annual limit for government bond purchases, previously set at ¥80 trillion, at its meeting in late April to prepare for new paper issuance aimed at financing economic measures and to help curb a possible spike in long-term yields. It also aims to buy up to ¥12 trillion of exchange-traded funds.

Parliament has approved two extra budgets to spur the country’s economy.

The BOJ maintained its 2 percent inflation target while reiterating its commitment to taking “additional easing measures if necessary” without hesitation.

However, the BOJ said the outlook for the core consumer price index, excluding volatile fresh food items, is likely to be negative for the time being, mainly affected by COVID-19 and the decline in crude oil prices.

The BOJ Policy Board voted 8 to 1 to maintain its current monetary policy, with the only dissenter, Goshi Kataoka, demanding additional rate cuts.

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