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Japan's small companies apply for cash grants amid pandemic

Owners call for longer-term support as state of emergency to continue

A street lined with restaurants in Tokyo is bereft of customers due to the coronavirus. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

TOKYO -- Small and mid-sized businesses in Japan are facing massive damage as the spread of the new coronavirus forces stores to close and slams the breaks on consumption.

Parliament on Thursday approved a supplementary budget including a new subsidy program for such enterprises struggling to sustain operations, with cash grants of up to 2 million yen ($18,664) for companies seeing declines of 50% or more in year-on-year monthly revenue. Sole proprietors, including freelancers, will also be eligible for a maximum of 1 million yen in subsidies. But large companies with over 1 billion yen of capital are excluded.

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