Japan approves $90 billion of stimulus

The nation’s Diet, or parliament, ratified a budget that contains around $90 billion in subsidies to help struggling companies regain profits, Reuters reports.

Despite last year’s factional wrangling over Japan’s commitment to reducing its fiscal deficit, the package managed to pass without a major last-minute hitch.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had originally called for a supplementary budget, but postponed it in an effort to stave off resignations in his cabinet. Finance Minister Taro Aso, who was leading efforts to push through the package, finally secured support from his own coalition for the plan early Monday.

The package reportedly includes $58 billion for new investments to reform the nation’s industrial base and $22 billion to support companies after tariffs on steel and aluminum imports were imposed by President Trump. Japan received reassurances on those and other issues after two key ministers were ousted over allegations that they had improperly accepted gifts.

Abe has made his aggressive fiscal program a centerpiece of his ambitions to reboot the economy. As well as providing a substantial boost to the national budget, there are concerns that such a dramatic economic intervention will slow down reforms to corporate governance in the public sector. The Japanese economy suffered its longest slump since World War II in the years after the global financial crisis, and has since regained some ground but has still yet to recover to its pre-crisis heights.

Recent approval ratings have shown slippage, and a rally for the leader’s support rate dipped in recent weeks to a 10-month low of 47 percent. Yet even as the yen surged on fears of the potential imposition of a trade war with the United States, the premier managed to hold onto enough support to push through the latest package.

Read the full story at Reuters.


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