The idea of Japan introducing a universal basic income, recently floated by one of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's economic advisers, has caught the eye at a time when the coronavirus pandemic is stirring worries about job security and social inequality.

In the past, some opposition parties have pledged to study fixed cash payments for low-income individuals, but economists say the public is paying more attention this time as the proposal came from Heizo Takenaka, a member of the Suga administration's growth strategy panel.

Takenaka's call for a universal basic income in media interviews also came after the government's blanket ¥100,000 ($960) cash handout last year as a way of mitigating the impact of the pandemic on households met with a generally favorable public reception.