Prefectural governors compiled a set of proposals for the central government on Thursday, including an increase in special grants for helping local communities ease the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an online meeting that day, the National Governors' Association said the nation's 47 prefectures had seen shortfalls in aid with the total estimated at ¥613.4 billion as of Oct. 1.
"We'll firmly propose to the state measures such as those for preventing the spread of the virus and supporting medical institutions," said Kamon Iizumi, head of the association and governor of Tokushima Prefecture, at a news conference after the meeting.
According to a survey by the association on pandemic-related grants, the 47 prefectures need a total of ¥1.8438 trillion, including the amounts already spent, for financing small business support and other relief measures.
But the total amount provided by the central government stood at ¥1.2304 trillion. All prefectures had seen shortfalls, the survey showed. The total estimated shortfall was up from ¥500.5 billion as of August.
In the videoconference, many governors called for the grants to be increased. "We are using the grants for job security and other measures,” said Shingo Mimura, governor of Aomori Prefecture. The situation in the local economy was “increasingly severe amid prolonged impacts of the virus crisis,” he said, “but the amount of aid is not enough."
Meanwhile, the association called on the state to extend its Go To series programs, intended to shore up consumption amid the pandemic.
Mieko Yoshimura, governor of Yamagata Prefecture, praised the Go To Travel campaign, saying the prefecture had "started seeing the effects" of the tourism promotion program.
In addition, the association adopted a message asking companies to spread out their year-end and New Year holidays to reduce the risk of infection, while calling on people to refrain from behavior that could spread the virus — such as spending long hours dining in groups and engaging in conversation without wearing face masks.
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