Japan gov’t to compile massive additional finances after polls, says LDP heavyweight By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Japan’s Economy Minister Akira Amari speaks during a press conference in Tokyo, Japan, Jan. 28, 2016. REUTERS / Yuya Shino

TOKYO (Reuters) – Immediately after the upcoming general election, Japan will set up a sizeable supplementary budget to ease pandemic pain and support long-term growth in areas such as green, digital and infrastructure, a ruling party heavyweight said on Sunday.

“Vaccinations must be tackled first. This is the strongest coronavirus measure,” Akira Amari, newly appointed general secretary of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), told the political debate on the public broadcaster NHK.

Japan should increase vaccination rates from around 60% now to 70-80%, a level that is seen as a public depressant, Amari said.

“We have responded with various measures by tapping emergency budget reserves. Now the reserves are drying up, we will set up a considerably large additional budget immediately after the election.”

Given poor public finances, Japan’s next prime minister, Fumio Kishida, may have no choice but to sell more government bonds to fund a pandemic relief package that he said would be worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

Kishida, a former foreign minister, won the LDP’s leadership race on Wednesday and will almost certainly take over Yoshihide Suga as prime minister on Monday due to the party’s majority in the powerful lower house.

It is widely expected that Kishida will be formally elected Prime Minister when Parliament is convened on Monday and will announce a cabinet reshuffle later that day.

Amari, a former economy minister who is considered a key ally of Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was named general secretary on Friday.

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