The government adopted Tuesday a set of emergency measures to financially support people experiencing economic hardships amid the coronavirus pandemic to prevent them from becoming disconnected and isolated from society.
The package, adopted at a meeting of relevant Cabinet ministers, features a fresh program in which low-income households with children will receive ¥50,000 in cash per child. It comes at a time when the government’s second state of emergency, currently in place in Tokyo and neighboring prefectures, has led to a deterioration in the employment situation.
The package also includes expanded subsidies for nonprofit organizations that run kodomo shokudo cafeterias offering free meals to needy children and other groups helping people in trouble.
To implement these measures, the government will use over ¥500 billion in reserve funds.
“We will fully support people who we haven’t been able to reach sufficiently,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said at the meeting.
The government will launch a full-fledged survey on the issue of loneliness and isolation amid the COVID-19 crisis, planning to draw up medium- to long-term countermeasures in June for inclusion in its new economic and fiscal policy guidelines.
The emergency cash handout program for low-income households with children is the third of its kind.
The previous two programs targeted only single-parent households, with ¥50,000 provided for the first child and ¥30,000 for each subsequent child.
The new program will cover all low-income households exempted from residential tax payments, including those with both parents, with ¥50,000, instead of ¥30,000, to be distributed for each child born after the first child.
The government will expand subsidies for NPOs and other private-sector organizations that run kodomo shokudo cafeterias, support women facing problems and offer consultations to prevent suicide, in order to strengthen the safety net across a range of different areas.
The government will also consider renting out vacant public housing for a low fee to help poor people find jobs.
Single parents taking job training will receive up to ¥40,000 per month to cover housing costs.
In addition, the government will extend the March 31 deadline by three months for applications for special loans under a lending scheme to help cover temporary living costs and a comprehensive loan scheme, both targeting people who have been out of work temporarily or lost their jobs due to the fallout from the coronavirus.
An applicant can take out a total of up to ¥2 million under the two programs. Contract workers whose income has dropped and single parents with reduced child support payments will also be eligible for the programs.
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