Keidanren: Govt must chip in to employment adjustment subsidies

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Masakazu Kubota

Vice Chairman and President of the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) Masakazu Kubota called on the government to replenish depleted employment adjustment subsidy coffers with a bold injection of funds, as many companies in the hard-hit transportation and tourism industries struggle to keep employees on their payrolls amid the prolonged pandemic.

In an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun, Kubota urged the government to tap general revenue sources to secure ample financing for the subsidy to help companies pay allowances to workers who have been put on leave due to the novel coronavirus.

“Companies in certain industries, regardless of their size, are in a structurally difficult situation,” Kubota said. “Employers’ contributions alone are not enough to cope in this case.”

To date, the employment insurance system has been funded by reserves contributed by companies themselves. However, this subsidy pool has nearly dried up since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, with ¥3.6 trillion in payouts already on the books.

Keidanren’s new chairman, Masakazu Tokura, who took the reins of the federation of June 1, has set his sights on an action plan that balances economic growth and infection prevention measures, while also encouraging decarbonization.

“By going half a step ahead, the Keidanren serves in a leadership role showing companies the way forward,” Kubota said.

Kubota also articulated a goal to enhance the capabilities of Keidanren’s secretariat, on an accelerated schedule. Referencing how Keidanren officials are often referred to as “minryo,” literally, private-sector bureaucrat, Kubota said: “We aim to become minryo, in the best sense of the term, who are able to discuss policy on an equal footing with top-notch bureaucrats.”

Kubota was appointed vice chairman on June 1, becoming the first person from the Keidanren secretariat to hold one of the federation’s vice chair posts in seven years.