TOKYO, Aug 5 (Reuters) – Japan’s labour ministry is working to extend a special employment subsidy to help firms hit by the coronavirus pandemic that would keep furloughed workers on the payroll, the Nikkei business daily reported on Wednesday.
The latest move underscores concerns among policymakers that the expiration of the special subsidy could trigger a spike in job losses as many firms struggle to make ends meet amid difficult financing conditions.
The special measure was designed to temporarily lift the payment to companies who keep employment for the six months through to the end of September. The daily payment was raised to up to 15,000 yen ($141.80) per employee from up to 8,330 yen previously.
Some 2.36 million people were furloughed as of June, up 0.9 million from a year earlier, government data showed, prompting lawmakers to urge an extension of the special measure.
The government has set aside about 1.6 trillion yen for the special subsidy and provided 585.1 billion yen for it as of the end of July. The government will make necessary arrangements to deal with an increase in the fiscal burden, the business daily said, citing an unnamed ruling party official.
Japan’s job market has been cooling as the spread of the coronavirus forced businesses to close and people to stay home throughout May.
Although the restrictions were lifted late in May, policymakers have had to balance containing the virus with the need to resume economic activity as the world’s third-largest economy faces its deepest recession in decades.
$1 = 105.7800 yen Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Sam Holmes