• Jiji

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The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said Friday it will seek additional funding from the government to boost subsidies for couples taking infertility treatment in its budget request for fiscal 2021.

The ministry earmarked ¥15.1 billion in such spending in the initial budget for fiscal 2020. The ministry will soon decide how much it will demand for the new year from April.

The ministry said it plans to seek a record ¥32.99 trillion in its general-account budget request for fiscal 2021, up by ¥3.4 billion from the previous year’s initial budget.

On Friday, the ministry briefed the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s Health, Labor and Welfare Division on the budget request.

Meanwhile, the ministry did not specify the amounts of its funding requests for many measures to fight the novel coronavirus. It plans to decide the amounts during the budget compilation process.

Of the total request, the ministry plans to use ¥12.46 trillion for operating the public pension system, ¥11.86 trillion for covering health insurance-related expenses, ¥3.23 trillion for nursing care services and ¥2.82 trillion for running the welfare benefit system.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga aims to cover infertility treatment with public insurance as early as possible, as one of the measures to remedy the low birthrate.

Before achieving insurance coverage, the ministry plans to use the fiscal 2021 budget to expand the existing financial aid program for infertility treatment.

To finance measures to tackle the new coronavirus crisis, the ministry has been using reserve funds for fiscal 2020. It will work out a specific amount needed for such measures in fiscal 2021 by the end of this year while monitoring the infection situation.

The ministry will call for funding to establish facilities to conduct polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, tests for coronavirus infection and create a system to administer coronavirus vaccines to citizens.

The budget request will also include ¥3.1 billion in costs to promote teleworking and continue providing employment adjustment subsidies, provided to companies with paid leave allowances amid the virus crisis.

Additionally, the ministry will seek ¥3.8 billion in costs to prepare for a plan to introduce the online management of prescriptions, currently printed on paper, in 2022.

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