Japan moves forward with $1tn in new coronavirus relief

Cheryl Sanders
May 25, 2020

Japan will lift a state of emergency for Tokyo and remaining areas still facing restrictions on Monday, while the Nikkei reported a plan for new stimulus worth more than $1 trillion Cdn to help companies ride out the coronavirus pandemic.

An Asahi newspaper poll conducted at the weekend showed Abe's support rate at 29 percent - the lowest since he returned to power in late 2012 - and disapproval at 52 percent.

In Tokyo, the number of new infections over the past seven days has been below 0.5 per 100,000 people - one of the criteria for the state of emergency to be lifted.

"We were able to end the outbreak in about one month and a half with Japan's own way", Abe said Monday, adding that Japan would gradually increase social and economic activities to create a "new life" with the coronavirus. The results mirrored a Mainichi newspaper survey published on Saturday.

Unlike a European-style hard lockdown, Japan's state of emergency is soft and largely a request for people to stay at home and for non-essential businesses to close or operate shorter hours, a strategy aimed at minimising the economic damage.

Abe will have a task force meeting Monday night after which the lifting of the state of emergency will take effect. Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said last week that the capital will reopen in three phases starting with schools, libraries, museums, and longer service hours for restaurants. Subsequent stages would see theatres, cinemas and fairgrounds reopen.

Forty-two new infections were reported on Sunday, 14 of them in Tokyo.

The package, to be funded by a second supplementary budget, would follow a record 117 trillion yen spending plan deployed last month.

Tokyo prefecture is responsible for more than 5,140 of Japan's total of more than 16,000 confirmed coronavirus cases.

Another 27 trillion yen will be set aside for other financial aid programmes, including 15 trillion yen for a new programme to inject capital into ailing firms, it said.

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