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Japan Approves a $490 Billion Stimulus Package

todayNovember 19, 2021 9

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Japan’s government agreed on Friday to spend $490 billion on stimulus measures, a move by its prime minister to boost an economy battered by coronavirus restrictions and by a supply chain crunch that has affected the country’s largest manufacturers.

Japan announced a partial easing of border restrictions this month and has lifted virtually all restrictions on its economy amid a falling virus caseload. And its rate of fully vaccinated people — 76 percent of the population, according to a New York Times tracker — is one of the highest among rich nations. But a ban on international tourists continues to weigh on economic growth.

The stimulus package, Japan’s largest to date, accounts for about 10 percent of the country’s economic output, officials said. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Friday that it could increase economic output about 5.6 percent.

“I want to bring Japan’s economy, which has been severely damaged, onto a trajectory of recovery,” he told reporters.

The package includes aid to struggling businesses and hospitals, money for strengthening semiconductor supply chains, and programs to encourage domestic tourism and investment in a nationwide university endowment fund.

It also includes a one-time cash handout of 100,000 yen, or $878, per child under 18 for households where the highest-earning parent is paid less than about $84,300 a year. About nine in 10 households with children are eligible.

The cash handouts to young families are not especially popular. Critics have questioned the need for them in a country with an aging society.

Last spring, the government sent stimulus checks to every resident, but they did little to raise inflation or consumer spending. Analysts estimate that about 70 percent of the handouts went to household savings.

Mr. Kishida’s cabinet approved the stimulus package on Friday, less than two months after he won a runoff election for leadership of the country’s governing Liberal Democratic Party. Japan’s economy is the world’s third largest after those of the United States and China.

Original story from https://www.nytimes.com

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