Economic coronavirus slump in Japan means cash help will be too late for many

Economic coronavirus slump in Japan means cash help will be too late for many

Sawako Utsumi and Kanako Itamae

Modern Tokyo Times

The economic convulsions from coronavirus (Covid-19) mean that many people have lost work – or witnessed shorter hours in Japan. Like other nations, it is temporary workers and low paid staff that are suffering the most. Therefore, the 100,000 yen for all residents in Japan was welcomed by the most vulnerable.

Yet, the 100,000 yen cash handout decided by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be too late for many. This is based on bureaucracy, the size of respective cities, the motivation of different wards and prefectures, and other factors. Hence, for many who need breathing space now, it is a postcode lottery of when they will receive government support.

At the moment, roughly 66 percent of all 47 prefectures plan to hand the cash handout by the end of May. Similarly, within major cities like Tokyo, some wards like Shinagawa are aiming to start payments by late May. However, other wards in Tokyo will be later. Thus, the postcode lottery based on speed depends on the respective prefecture or wards within major cities.

Indeed, in some smaller parts of Japan, some local governments have already begun paying people in villages. Of course, this is based on the population of respective villages and towns being small.

However, it also relates to the poverty that prevails in certain parts of Japan. After all, far from the ultra-modern cities that persist throughout Japan, you have extreme poverty in rural areas and neglected towns.

Yes, poverty also exists throughout all major cities. Yet, the safety-mechanisms of remote areas are much less. Equally important, many remote areas have high elderly populations with limited pensions already. Therefore, they must get government help quickly.

Of course, it should be mentioned that local governments are already under strain from the economic convulsions of the coronavirus. Thus, the bureaucratic nature of the cash handout is burdensome because of other important stresses.

Ironically, the ward where the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is based in Shinjuku is still unsure when they will pay. Unlike the ward of Shinagawa – and other wards in Tokyo – that hope to support the most needed by late May.

Overall, it is a postcode lottery based on speed and within the objectives of individual wards in various big cities. However, for many people, the payment will be too late to help during the height of the economic coronavirus convulsions.


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