Japan's Parliament starts regular session with focus on Covid-19 pandemic

TOKYO (XINHUA) – Japan’s Diet started a 150-day regular session on Monday (Jan 18), during which the government plans to submit Bills including the revision of the special law on Covid-19 pandemic to better combat the outbreak as well as legislation on establish a new digital agency.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will deliver a policy speech, which will be his first at the regular session of the Diet – or Parliament – after taking office in September last year.

In the speech, he is expected to outline his policy agenda and stress his determination to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

The government and ruling parties are set to work for swift passage of the third supplementary budget for the current fiscal year and a draft budget for the next fiscal year.

The third supplementary budget for the fiscal year 2020 through March, earmarking 19.18 trillion yen (S$246.48 billion) to finance additional economic measures, was approved by the Cabinet in December last year, with an aim to sustain the government’s recent package for economic recovery amid the pandemic.

The extra budget comes as Japan recently witnessed record numbers of new Covid-19 infections, seriously ill patients and the daily death toll amid a resurgence of the virus.

The draft budget for the next fiscal year, meanwhile, totalled 106.61 trillion yen, with the amount reaching an all-time high for the ninth straight year.

The draft budget, surpassing 100 trillion yen for the third successive year, will also see a record 35.84 trillion yen, roughly one-third of the entire budget, earmarked for social security spending.

Meanwhile, opposition parties are poised to put pressure on the government over what they consider is a slow response that has worsened the Covid-19 pandemic across the country.

The regular session will continue through June 16.

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