Japan to compile big extra budget after polls, LDP heavyweight says

Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari speaks at a press conference in Tokyo, Japan on January 28, 2016. REUTERS / Yuya Shino

  • Incoming PM Kishida to spend big to ease COVID pain
  • Abe Amari’s ally appointed general secretary of the PLD
  • Kishida to call in key cabinet reshuffle staff

TOKYO, Oct. 3 (Reuters) – Japan will compile a significantly large supplementary budget immediately following the impending general election to ease the economic blow from the pandemic and boost long-term growth in key areas, a party heavyweight said on Sunday in power.

“What needs to be addressed first are vaccinations. This is the strongest measure against coronaviruses,” Akira Amari, newly appointed general secretary of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), told the debate program policy of the public channel NHK.

Japan is expected to increase its vaccination rate from 60% to 70% to 80%, levels considered to ease public anxiety, Amari said.

“We have responded with various measures by drawing on emergency budgetary reserves. Now that the reserves are drying up, we will compile a considerably large supplementary budget immediately after the election.”

Given dire public finances, Japan’s new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida may have no choice but to sell more government bonds to fund a pandemic relief plan which it says him, would be worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

Amari, a former economy minister seen as a key ally of Japan’s oldest prime minister, Shinzo Abe, said the supplementary budget would focus on the environment, digital and infrastructure.

He said the government might consider expanding employment subsidies, but Keiichi Ishii, his counterpart in the LDP’s small coalition partner Komeito, called for cash payments of 100,000 yen ($ 900) to anyone up to the age of 18, or about 20 million people.

Kishida, a former foreign minister, won the LDP leadership race on Wednesday and is expected to be elected prime minister in parliament on Monday, replacing Yoshihide Suga, by virtue of the party’s majority in the lower house. He is expected to appoint his cabinet later today.

General elections must take place before November 28.

Seiko Noda, who ran against Kishida, is likely to secure a ministerial post, Kyodo News reported on Sunday, a move in line with Kishida’s goal of having women lawmakers make up 30 percent or more of her cabinet.

The new leader is expected to keep Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi – Abe’s younger brother – and Education Minister and Abe’s ally Koichi Hagiuda in his cabinet, the Mainichi newspaper reported.

Finance Minister Taro Aso’s brother-in-law Shunichi Suzuki is expected to replace him, media reported.

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi is expected to retain his post, while Hirokazu Matsuno, education minister in the Abe cabinet, is expected to become chief secretary to the cabinet.

Komeito’s number two Tetsuo Saito is expected to be appointed transport minister, replacing his fellow Komeito MP Kazuyoshi Akaba, media reported.

($ 1 = 111,0500 yen)

Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Christopher Cushing and William Mallard

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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