Japan to provide further assistance to needy families with children

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The government on Tuesday adopted a package of emergency measures to financially support people in economic difficulty amid the coronavirus pandemic to prevent them from disconnecting and isolating themselves from society.

The package, adopted at a meeting of relevant ministers, includes a new program in which low-income households with children will receive 50,000 in cash per child. It comes as the government’s second state of emergency, currently in force in Tokyo and neighboring prefectures, has led to a deterioration in the employment situation.

The package also includes expanded grants for nonprofit organizations that manage kodomo shokudo cafeterias offering free meals to needy children and other groups helping people in difficulty.

To implement these measures, the government will use more than 500 billion euros in reserve funds.

“We will fully support the people we could not reach enough,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said at the meeting.

The government will launch a full-fledged investigation into the issue of loneliness and isolation amid the COVID-19 crisis, planning to develop medium and long-term countermeasures in June to be included in its new guidance economic and fiscal policy.

The emergency cash distribution program for low-income households with children is the third of its kind.

The previous two programs targeted single-parent households only, with 50,000 for the first child and 30,000 for each subsequent child.

The new program will cover all low-income households exempt from housing tax, including those with both parents, with 50,000, instead of 30,000, to be distributed for each child born after the first child.

The government will expand grants to NPOs and other private sector organizations that run kodomo shokudo cafeterias, support women facing problems and offer consultations to prevent suicide, in order to strengthen the safety net in various areas.

The government will also consider renting vacant public housing at low cost to help poor people find jobs.

Single parents undergoing vocational training will receive up to 40,000 per month to cover housing costs.

In addition, the government will extend by three months the deadline of March 31 for special loan applications under a loan program to help cover temporary living costs and a comprehensive loan program, targeting all two people who have been temporarily unemployed or have lost their jobs due to the fallout from the coronavirus.

An applicant can subscribe up to 2 million yen in total under both programs. Contract workers with decreased income and single parents with reduced child support will also be eligible for the programs.

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