• Kyodo

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The ruling coalition agreed Wednesday to exclude high-income households from its plan to give out ¥100,000 ($886) in cash and vouchers for every child age 18 and under as part of the government’s latest COVID-19 stimulus package.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who heads the Liberal Democratic Party, and Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of the LDP’s coalition partner Komeito, agreed there would be a cap of ¥9.6 million on annual income to qualify for the measure.

The handouts had been the subject of political wrangling for several days. Komeito had pushed for their inclusion in the stimulus package after making handouts the focus of its campaign pledges in the general election last month.

The LDP, meanwhile, was concerned the plan would be seen as a waste of taxpayer money after a similar program last year that gave ¥100,000 in cash to everyone in Japan did little to boost consumer spending.

The handouts will be delivered in two stages, with households below the income cap to begin receiving ¥50,000 in cash within the year. Another ¥50,000 worth of vouchers that can be used on services related to child care will start arriving by spring next year.

Kishida and Yamaguchi also agreed in their meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office to give out up to ¥20,000 in credit to everyone who already has or newly acquires a My Number card, a move aimed at shoring up the pandemic-hit economy while also promoting use of the unpopular means of identification.

Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi speaks to reporters Wednesday at the Prime Minister's Office after meeting Prime Minister Fumio Kishida together with Komeito Secretary-General Keiichi Ishii (right). | KYODO
Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi speaks to reporters Wednesday at the Prime Minister’s Office after meeting Prime Minister Fumio Kishida together with Komeito Secretary-General Keiichi Ishii (right). | KYODO

The ruling coalition retained a comfortable majority in the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of parliament, in the Oct. 31 general election, clearing the way for Kishida to relaunch his Cabinet on Wednesday and pursue his COVID-19 and economic policies.

The government aims to draw up a stimulus package worth more than ¥30 trillion with such measures by next week, and secure funding through a supplementary budget within the year.

Senior LDP and Komeito officials have separately agreed on ¥100,000 cash handouts for low-income households that are exempt from paying residential tax.

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