Japan considers fresh COVID-19 stimulus package
The Japanese government will act “without hesitation” to cushion the economic blow from the pandemic, said economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura on Friday, as the country expands states of emergency to three prefectures near Tokyo and the western prefecture of Osaka as COVID-19 cases surge.
“We’ll pay close attention to economic conditions, including the impact from infections and state of emergency curbs,” Nishimura told a parliament hearing on the government’s COVID-19 response, according to Reuters.
“I’m in close consultation with the prime minister and we’re ready to take macro-economic policy steps without hesitation,” he added.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is under pressure to approve another relief package to appeal to voters ahead of general elections scheduled later in 2021, amid a backdrop of slow vaccinations and poor handling of the pandemic.
Lawmakers have since escalated calls for a new relief package, with the idea of an extra budget valued at 30 trillion yen (US$274 billion) being floated around.
Over the past year, the government has deployed stimulus packages worth US$3 trillion to tackle the pandemic, adding to debt that is already the largest among major economies.