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Coronavirus

Japan prepares to hand out cash to parents

Prime Minister Abe starts work on package hours after $10bn stimulus passes

With schools across Japan closed, children whose parents cannot stay home with them study at an elementary school on March 6. (Photo by Kosaku Mimura)

TOKYO -- One day after passing a 1 trillion yen ($9.6 billion) financial aid package for businesses and families suffering from the coronavirus outbreak, Japan's government began planning fresh stimulus measures for April as it turns ultra-aggressive toward a looming recession, Nikkei has learned.

The expenditures being prepared for next month include cash payments to households with parents who are forced to stop working due to temporary school closures.

Stimulus measures that encourage people to move around could help the virus spread. Giving cash directly to households is meant to minimize this concern.

The government intends to coordinate the stimulus with one coming from U.S. President Donald Trump in an attempt to bolster the global economy.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on Wednesday met the secretary generals and policy gurus of the Liberal Democratic Party and coalition partner Komeito, with everyone agreeing to "respond flexibly" to the fragile economic situation.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to make official requests for the fresh package after lawmakers pass the initial budget proposal for fiscal 2020, which is currently being deliberated. The requests will be included in the revised budget for fiscal 2020.

Opposition parties will be called on to cooperate.

It will be the first time since 2009 for Japan to implement an emergency spending package in the first month of the fiscal year. Eleven years ago, the government was responding to the global financial crisis brought on by the Lehman shock.

The emergency aid package that passed the Diet on Tuesday night was unveiled on Oct. 10. It is mainly focused on supporting small businesses' cash flows. It also creates a subsidy for companies that hire parents who have stopped working due to temporary school closures.

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