Tokyo starts distributing cash to businesses shuttered due to virus

Subsidies for businesses and nonprofit organizations equal ¥500,000 for single-shop owners

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government on Monday started compensating small- and medium-sized businesses that had suspended operations through last week amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Subsidies for businesses and nonprofit organizations closed between April 16 and last Wednesday are worth ¥500,000 ($4,700) for single-shop owners, and ¥1 million for operators of multiple sites.

The government authority, which began accepting applications from April 22, had completed screening procedures for some of the quickest cases by Sunday.

It expects to receive up to 130,000 applications by the June 15 deadline, and had received 66,000 by Friday evening.

Following the extension of the nationwide state of emergency through May 31, the metropolitan government plans to additionally pay the same amount of subsidies to businesses that remain closed until the end of the month.

The Tokyo government has put aside some ¥96 billion for such aid, and will earmark the same amount for further assistance in a supplementary budget to be deliberated at a session of the metropolitan assembly set to run through June 10.

The screening process requires businesses to supply posters or copies of website pages announcing their suspension of operations, and which clearly state the shop name and period of closure.

Hairdressers and beauty salons are not among businesses that have been asked to shut, but will receive ¥150,000 if they do so voluntarily.

The metropolitan government plans to start accepting applications for the additional subsidies after the assembly endorses the extra budget, and to simplify procedures for businesses that have already applied for the initial subsidies.

The number of infections with the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 reported by the capital is the highest in Japan, at more than 4,800 cases with 180 deaths. The total number of cases in the country has exceeded 16,500 — including about 700 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo in February — with nearly 650 deaths.


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