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Japan Unveils Over $700bn Fresh COVID-19 Stimulus Package




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Japan’s prime minister on Tuesday unveiled more than $700 billion in fresh stimulus to fund projects from anti-coronavirus measures to green tech, the country’s third such package this financial year.

The coronavirus pandemic has wrought global economic carnage and countries across the world have announced massive cash injections.

Premier Yoshihide Suga said the latest package, worth 73.6 trillion yen ($708 billion) — including loan schemes and actual government spending of around 40 trillion yen — would be formally approved later Tuesday.

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It is the first stimulus spending Suga has announced since taking office in September, and comes as Japan faces a spike in Covid-19 infections, with record numbers of new cases reported in recent weeks.

“We drew up (the stimulus package) to pave the way for new growth, to protect people’s livelihoods as well as maintaining employment and keeping businesses going,” he said.

Japan officially exited recession last month after three quarters of contraction, and hopes to cement its recovery with the latest spending — which follows previous packages in April and June worth around 117 trillion yen each.

Government data released Tuesday revised up Japan’s GDP figure for the July-September period to 5.3 per cent from a preliminary estimate of 5.0 per cent.

The new package includes financial support for medical institutions and facilities for the elderly, and subsidies to continue a controversial domestic travel scheme supporting tourism-dependent businesses.

While Japan has seen a relatively small Covid-19 outbreak overall — with 163,929 confirmed cases and 2,382 deaths — there has been a sharp rise in infections, and doctors have warned that hospitals could be overwhelmed.

A severe shortage of medical staff has been reported in Osaka and the northern Hokkaido region, with local media saying military backup could be sent to hospitals there.

The package also features a $20 billion green tech fund designed to support projects from renewable energy development to pollution reduction.

In October, Suga set a 2050 deadline for Japan to become carbon neutral, significantly firming up the country’s climate-change commitments.


Credit: AFP








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