Japan PM candidate Kishida calls for $367 billion stimulus package: Media

TOKYO (REUTERS) – Mr Fumio Kishida, a strong contender to succeed Mr Yoshihide Suga as Japan’s prime minister, called for a stimulus package of more than 30 trillion yen (S$367 billion) to cushion the economic blow from the coronavirus pandemic, a magazine reported.

Mr Suga’s shock Friday announcement he was stepping down has thrown a ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leadership race set for Sept 29 wide open, with an array of candidates – including Mr Kishida – considering running.

Mr Kishida also told Diamond magazine that if he were to become prime minister, he would have the Bank of Japan maintain its 2 per cent inflation target and massive stimulus programme.

“We can’t touch it for the time being. Removing the goal could send the wrong message to markets,” Mr Kishida said on the BOJ’s price target, which critics say is unrealistic for an economy long suffering from near-zero inflation.

“We must support the economy with large-scale monetary easing and fiscal stimulus to protect people’s lives from the pandemic,” he was quoted as saying in an interview that ran on Monday (Sept 6) evening.

The remarks came after Mr Kishida told a news conference on Friday the government must compile a spending package worth “several tens of trillions yen,” without giving a specific number.

Mr Kishida said under his plan, the government would compile a supplementary budget exceeding 30 trillion yen that will be funded by issuing bonds, according to the magazine.

“Kishida is stressing the need for a short-term, targeted package, a view seen shared by another strong candidate Taro Kono,” said Mr Chotaro Morita, a strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities, adding 30 trillion yen will be the ballpark number for any new stimulus regardless of who becomes next premier. 

Ms Sanae Takaichi, who is also expressing interest in running and has the backing of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has called for freezing a target for balancing the budget until the BOJ’s 2 per cent inflation target is met. 

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