THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
April 21, 2020 at 16:13 JST
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, meets with executives of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on April 20 after formal approval was given to the cash payment program to deal with the coronavirus outbreak. (Takeshi Iwashita)
Smaller municipalities will begin doling out onetime cash payments of 100,000 yen ($930) to every household member as early as May under a central government initiative to deal with the new coronavirus epidemic that will place a severe strain on state finances.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications announced the outline for the cash payment program on April 20.
Not only will everyone currently registered in residential rosters, including foreign residents, be eligible for the payments, but even the homeless who may not have a registered residence will be able to apply for the payments by setting up a new address with local authorities.
To avoid a further spread of the coronavirus, applications for the cash payments as well as making them will be conducted without the need for face-to-face contact. Applications will, in principle, be accepted through the mail or over the internet.
Municipal governments will be in charge of implementing the cash payment program.
“While local governments will decide on the date the payments are made, municipalities with smaller populations may be able to begin distributing the payments from May,” internal affairs minister Sanae Takaichi said at an April 20 news conference.
Households will be given a three-month deadline for submitting applications.
Municipal governments will mail out applications to each household in their respective residential roster.
Those receiving the application will be required to list the names of every household member eligible for the payment as well as information about the bank account to which the payments are to be made. The applicant must also include a copy of ID documents, such as a driver’s license, to confirm identity before mailing the application.
The total amount for the entire household will then be deposited in the account included in the application.
Individuals without an account at a financial institution or who have accounts at an institution far from their home will be able to request that they be permitted to pick up the payments at the municipal government office.
Those who do not have a set residence and spend their nights at internet cafes or whose current address differs from the one registered on April 27, which will be the standard for deciding where the individual should send in the application, can still apply to the municipal government if it has a record of that individual having once resided there.
The cash payment program will impose a heavy burden on the nation’s finances.
A new supplementary budget was approved by the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on April 20 that earmarked a total of 25.7 trillion yen for the cash payments. The figure is about 8.89 trillion yen higher than a previous proposal, now scrapped, to distribute 300,000 yen to households that lost income as a result of reduced business operations caused by the coronavirus.
The increased disbursement will be paid for by deficit-covering bonds worth 23.4 trillion yen. The total of newly issued bonds for the current fiscal year will reach a record 58.2 trillion yen.
(This article was written by Ryo Toyoka and Kazuki Kimura.)
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