• Kyodo

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The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner agreed Tuesday on a measure to distribute cash and vouchers each worth ¥50,000 to people aged 18 and younger to address the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

LDP Secretary-General Toshimitsu Motegi and his Komeito counterpart Keiichi Ishii agreed to quickly hand out the cash and then provide the vouchers toward spring, but they failed to agree on whether to introduce an income cap for those who are eligible to receive the benefits, party officials said.

While the LDP wants a ¥9.6 million annual income cap for recipient households so as to provide the benefits for those in need, Komeito has proposed providing the benefits to everyone age 18 or younger.

The benefit program is a part of an economic package promised by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Kishida said at a meeting Tuesday of LDP executives that he wants to “speed up arrangements with Komeito on the economic package and compile it on Nov. 19,” while adding he wants to draw up the required supplementary budget for fiscal 2021 within this month.

Kishida, who also heads the LDP, said he will present the overall picture of his government’s coronavirus response on Friday.

During campaigning for the Oct. 31 House of Representatives election, Komeito called for cash handouts or other forms of benefits worth ¥100,000 per person to be distributed to everyone aged 18 and below.

In contrast, the government and the LDP has sought to exclude higher-income households, fearing criticism that it is splashing cash in the run-up to the House of Councilors election next year.

Before meeting Ishii, Motegi said at a news conference that Komeito’s proposal “is one way of thinking, but it is important to provide stronger support to temporary workers, women and childrearing generations as well as students.”

Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi separately told reporters that his party’s members hope to agree on points they accept to start and then eventually reach a consensus for the overall package.

Motegi and Ishii started negotiations on Monday and agreed on swiftly providing benefits but both suggested there are still details that need to be ironed out.

Ishii said Monday that it is desirable to give cash handouts without setting further conditions, but added his party is not adamant about giving them all in the form of cash.

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