Japan to give more financial aid for hospitals fighting pandemic

Dec 04 , 2020. 12 hours ago – 22:32 KYODO NEWS

TOKYO – Japan’s new economic package will include increased subsidies for medical institutions to help them secure more beds for novel coronavirus patients, a government draft of the stimulus showed Thursday.

As for companies maintaining employment despite worsening business conditions, the government plans to extend its financial aid for two months beyond December, with the daily payment of up to 15,000 yen per employee to remain unchanged, according to the document.

It will also raise the amount of subsidies for local governments which can be used to assist restaurants that shorten operating hours, the draft, a copy of which was obtained by Kyodo News, showed, though without specific figures.

Amid a resurgence of infections in various parts of the country, with the nationwide daily tally recently topping 2,600, the new economic package is expected to be approved next week by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s Cabinet.

To finance the additional measures, the government is planning to draft a third supplementary budget totaling 20 trillion yen ($190 billion) for the current fiscal year to March, according to senior officials.

The number of patients with serious symptoms of the novel coronavirus in Japan reached a record 497 on Thursday, raising concern over the strain on medical systems. The number of new cases across the country has hit record highs multiple times since mid-November.

Since the outbreak of the virus, Japan has allocated about 2.7 trillion yen ($26 billion) in total for the medical sector, such as providing assistance to hospitals securing beds for COVID-19 patients and front-line medical workers, according to the health ministry.

The economic package is also likely to include the extension of the government’s subsidy program aimed at promoting domestic travel beyond its initial expiry at the end of January.

In addition to pandemic-related measures, the draft showed that a new fund will be set up to support firms working in research and development of next-generation batteries, hydrogen fuel and carbon recycling. The initiative is part of Japan’s efforts to achieve the goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

Cr.KYODO NEWS