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Japan to spend over ¥15 tril as virus hits economy

By Leika Kihara

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's pledge of "huge" stimulus will involve spending of at least 15 trillion yen financed in part by deficit-covering bonds, sources say, joining global efforts to cushion the economic blow from the coronavirus pandemic.

While the amount of debt issuance is likely be modest, it will put considerable market focus on Japan's dire fiscal position - at a time the market rout caused by the outbreak is prodding investors to dump even safe-haven assets like government bonds in favor of cash.

"We need to come up with big, powerful economic and fiscal measures that meets the enormous magnitude of the hit from the coronavirus outbreak," Abe told parliament on Monday.

"Depending on the situation, we'll take measures that exceed in scale those taken after the Lehman crisis," he said.

The Bank of Japan, too, stands ready to expand stimulus for the second straight month in April if the pandemic leads to cuts in jobs and capital expenditure big enough to derail prospects of an economic recovery, sources familiar with its thinking say.

"The key would be whether Japan's economy can manage to bounce back, as the BOJ now projects, after a temporary slump caused by the coronavirus outbreak," one of the sources said on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

"If further monetary steps are necessary, the BOJ is ready to act. In doing so, it will take into account the expected impact from the government's stimulus package," the source said.

The BOJ next meets for a rate review on April 27-28.

The government is working on a package of measures to combat the widening economic fallout from the coronavirus that will involve direct fiscal spending exceeding 15 trillion yen, several government and ruling party lawmakers with direct knowledge of the issue said.

It will be roughly equivalent to the amount Japan spent to deal with the aftermath of the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.

Including loans and other steps that does not include direct spending, the size of the package will exceed 30 trillion yen, the officials said.

The government will lay out details of the package once parliament passes on March 27 the state budget for the fiscal year beginning in April.

Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party will compile its draft stimulus package on March 30, which will serve as a basis for the government's plan.

Given the scale of the package and expected declines in tax revenues due to a slumping economy, the government is seen issuing deficit-covering bonds to fund some of the costs, the officials said.

Thanks to government efforts to front-load bond issuance to roll over maturing debt, total bonds it needs to sell to markets this year won't rise much, said Katsutoshi Inadome, senior bond strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

"But additional bond issuance will definitely hamper the government's efforts to balance the budget," he said. "There are worries over how market could respond to Japan's worsening public finances."

A finance ministry official said nothing has been decided on whether additional debt will be issued.

Worldwide travel bans, event cancellations and supply chain disruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak have added to strains on Japan's economy already on the cusp of recession. Japan has 1,102 confirmed cases of the virus, with 41 deaths.

An estimate by Dai-ichi Life Research Institute showed the coronavirus outbreak alone could shave 3.8 trillion yen off Japan's 540 trillion yen economy.

The heightening chance the Tokyo Olympic Games may be postponed may spur calls among lawmakers for an even bigger spending to mitigate the hit to the economy, analysts say.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Abe is failing again and again to address the Japanese people in his speeches.

Compare the measures being taken abroad

( for the people) and it is obvious that Abe shows a distinct inability to recognise simple truths.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

The damage to the economy is directly related to the postponement of The Olympics. As this has global implications and consequences delaying and trying to mitigate risk has been attempted on a domestic level only.

Therefore this highlights the government’s failure to address national and international concerns effectively.

This is not the time for economy first if there being sensible. Of course it’s a lose-lose situation, the sooner this is accepted and minimised as timely as possible the better. It is very tough to damage your nations most vulnerable people though, so we should know this is making it so difficult to decide. Unfortunately, inaction is worse than negative impacts to some part of society.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Money is not gonna solve Japan problem, postponing the Olympics is how real people deal the Japanese government, they lost face, by not thinking outside the box

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Why should Japan spend 15 Trillion Yen for a virus that originated in another country and led to this massive cost on the Japan tax payers? Surely the world body should be holding the so called 2nd world economy to reimburse its neighboring countries. Afterall that is what that particular country would do? Did Japan build man made islands to encroach and claim waters not legally theirs as a particular world court judged? Does Japan fly its vessels or ships as signs of hostilities? NO historically Japan has assisted this particular neighbor with name brand companies all in the name of business. Why this particular country was enhancing this dangerous virus in the first place, holding back critical data, silencing those who came forward who disappeared who knows where, need to reimburse the world or its neighbors. If monetary can't be done, then perhaps a payment plan or pay back with free trade and free production/manufacturing. After all it is calling itself the 2nd economic power and at times says it is the 2st? Time to prove it. This is why it is important to come clean in the first place and not harrass or intimidate its neighbors but conduct business.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

"financed in part bu deficit covering bonds"??

Who wrote this nonsense?  Japan already finances its normal budget by issuing bonds........

To find this extra money it will all need to be borrowed.

And spending huge amounts will still not really mitigate the damage caused by mass shutdowns of the economy and so on.

I know that many thing the government is not doing enough, but what do the stats show?  so far Japan is nowhere near the worst affected or fastest growing in terms of Covid-19.....

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Does this amount take into account the coming shelter in place or lockdown as other nations have been doing.

Because it is definately coming to Japan.

And it has crashed those other nations' economy.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Will any of the package go to people who need support or just the big business corporation who don't need it?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@rgcivilian1 hmm what's your genius plan to hold China accountable for this?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It will be roughly equivalent to the amount Japan spent to deal with the aftermath of the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.

12 years ago now - Japan has already paid that spending back, right? Just confirming.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan has a trade deficit of 12 billion dollars, as well as the highest debt in % of GDP at 201%. How can this much more spending by the government calm investors? Is the japanese government turning a blind eye to their fiscal health?

Abe Shinzo is pulling Japan into a never ending story of recession. He's just spending money to gain political support with corporate companies and the broader population of Japan, without thinking of the future fiscal health. Your "Abenomics" has been a failure!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Compare the measures being taken abroad

you mean like this:

US Congress struggles to pass coronavirus bill as COVID-19 cases grow

back to you.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

There must be a big hole in the japanese economy, Corona Virus was the excuse to get more money, thats all even now to-day 24/3/2020, normal people cannot even find any mask.What will 13 trillion yen be used for ???.

Fill the pockets of ................................................................Tax payers beware.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Why do I keep thinking the whole day, that the japanese economy may be a trojan horse and now, the truth had come out and corona virus was their good , very good excellent excuse ???. still cannot find any mask to-day.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Another net transfer of wealth from the citizens to the corporations. Generations yet unborn will thank you.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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