• Jiji


The government will ramp up its fight against the novel coronavirus, using ¥5 trillion in reserve funds secured under its fiscal 2021 draft budget adopted Monday.

The money, which can be spent without parliamentary approval, will allow the government to respond swiftly if and when fresh needs emerge for additional COVID-19 countermeasures.

The government hopes to underpin the coronavirus-hit economy without a break through the initial budget for the year starting next April and the third supplementary budget for fiscal 2020, whose draft version was adopted last week.

The draft extra budget also includes ¥4,358.1 billion for coronavirus measures, such as the launch of vaccinations and a boost to the capacity of polymerase chain reaction testing.

Under the fiscal 2021 draft budget, ¥4.5 billion in spending is planned in order to support the development of cutting-edge medical equipment such as ventilators, for which Japan relies heavily on exports.

To cover part of the costs to take PCR tests, the government has earmarked ¥67.2 billion under the supplementary budget. As coronavirus vaccinations will be provided to citizens for free, related costs of ¥573.6 billion are included in the extra budget.

In order to help local governments secure hospital beds for coronavirus patients and accommodations where carriers with mild symptoms can stay, ¥1,301.1 billion will be secured under extra budget to expand a special grant system to combat the coronavirus.

Also envisioned is ¥107.1 billion to subsidize medical facilities and pharmacies that buy supplies needed to prevent the spread of infections, such as acrylic boards and disinfectants.

With the measure, the government hopes that patients with other diseases will feel safe to visit hospitals and pharmacies as some of them are apparently refraining from such facilities out of concerns over infections.

The extra budget also includes ¥543 billion to extend a special measure under the government’s employment adjustment subsidy program, in a bid to continue supporting companies hit hard by the coronavirus crisis that put workers on leave instead of dismissing them.

Expenses for the special measure are also included in the fiscal 2021 draft budget, totaling ¥624 billion in the general and special accounts.

To support small enterprises battered by the coronavirus fallouts, a total of ¥2.4 trillion is included in the two draft budgets.

Using the money, the government will give up to ¥100 million per applicant to small companies trying to develop new business lines amid the protracted coronavirus crisis, such as restaurants newly starting delivery services.

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