Low-income households in Japan set to receive ¥50,000 handout

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Shelves are seen at a market in Osaka City.

The government finalized a package of measures Friday to deal with soaring prices, including a ¥50,000 handout for low-income households.

About 16 million households that are exempt from resident tax will be eligible for the handout. According to government sources, the handout was decided because soaring prices of electricity, gas and food have a greater impact on lower-income households.

The measures were compiled by the headquarters for comprehensive measures on prices, wages, and living conditions, which is headed by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

The government will also extend subsidies to oil wholesalers until the end of the year to curb the rise in gasoline prices.

The reserve fund in this fiscal year’s budget will be used to cover the cost of the measures.

“Protecting livelihoods and business activities is the top priority of the government,” Kishida said at the meeting. He instructed ministers to implement the measures as soon as possible.

The gasoline subsidy, which was to expire this month, will be extended until the end of December. The government has so far spent about ¥300 billion per month to keep the retail price of gasoline at ¥170 per liter, which would otherwise have been more than ¥200.

In addition, the price of imported wheat that the government buys from overseas and sells to domestic millers will remain at the current level after October.

About 90% of wheat consumed in Japan is imported, so if the price of imported wheat increases, the prices of bread, noodles and other products that contain wheat also go up, hitting household wallets.

The government has also decided to increase a temporary subsidy for regional development that local governments can use at their discretion to implement price control measures by ¥600 billion. Local governments can use the funds to provide support in line with the actual situation in each region.

About ¥3.5 trillion from the reserve fund will likely be earmarked for the government’s measures, including coronavirus pandemic measures.