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Japan prepares to broaden emergency as Abe plans ‘cash payouts for all’

Japan prepares to broaden emergency as Abe plans ‘cash payouts for all’

The government in Tokyo was reportedly preparing on Thursday to widen the state of emergency to the entire nation, beyond just major cities. With more than 9,000 coronavirus infections and nearly 200 deaths nationwide, the government had declared an emergency in Tokyo and six other areas, including western Osaka. Other regions then sought to be added, amid worries about the spreading virus.

Still short of a lockdown, the state of emergency imposed for a month from April 7 gave authorities more power to compel people to stay home and for businesses to close. It now covers about 44 percent of the population.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may also change a draft supplementary budget to provide cash payouts for everyone, Reuters reported, citing an official. The government’s supplementary budget plan has set aside funds for cash payouts of 300,000 yen ($2,784) to households whose incomes have been hit by the virus.

Abe’s administration will change the plan to deliver 100,000 yen to every citizen, the government official said. The change follows growing calls from ruling and opposition lawmakers for bolder steps by Abe to help people ride out the pandemic’s impact.