• Jiji


The government plans to swiftly work out legal measures to have medical institutions accept COVID-19 patients, according to a draft of new economic and fiscal policy guidelines.

The government finds it necessary to secure a sufficient number of hospital beds by making a law, given the fact that not many private hospitals admitted those infected with the coronavirus when the pandemic began spreading further.

The draft guidelines, presented to Wednesday's meeting of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, headed by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, note that the central government will swiftly study legal measures to allow itself and local governments to request or order hospitals to admit COVID-19 sufferers.

The government also plans to speed up approval of vaccines and drugs by reviewing the current screening system.

Besides measures to promptly cope with the coronavirus crisis, the draft seeks concentration of investments in the four areas of realizing a green society, promoting digitalization, bringing about regional revitalization and supporting children and child-rearing, in an effort to achieve a post-pandemic economic growth.

To streamline child-related policy management, now undertaken by multiple government agencies, urgent work to establish a children's agency as the control tower was proposed. A comprehensive policy package in this regard will be wrapped up by the end of this year, according to the draft.

On regional revitalization, the draft calls for raising minimum wages to ¥1,000 per hour on average at an early date to bring in human resources from big cities.

"To achieve an early economic recovery, it's necessary to realize the virtuous circle of income increase and consumption expansion," Suga said in the meeting.

The draft also calls on the government to work on making renewable energy the main source of electricity as a top priority issue, in order to achieve the emission reduction goal hammered out by the Suga administration.

Suspended nuclear power plants "should be put back into operation with safety given top priority," the draft says, adding that the country's nuclear dependence needs to be reduced "as much as possible."

As for the promotion of digitalization, the draft urges the government to put most administrative paperwork online within five years, starting with easier areas.

Issuing a central bank digital currency will be considered in terms of feasibility and legislative issues, based on the results of study to be conducted by the Bank of Japan and the government by March 2023.

The first policy guidelines under the Suga administration are expected to be adopted at a Cabinet meeting on June 18.

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