Japan to form panel to mull big stimulus package: Source

A man, wearing a protective mask following an outbreak of the coronavirus, walks on an almost empty street in Yokohama's Chinatown, south of Tokyo, on March 10, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will form a panel of key economic ministers and Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda to discuss measures to prop up an economy hit by the fallout from the coronavirus epidemic, a government official with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The move puts Japan in line with nations across the globe preparing more costly measures to combat the global fallout of the coronavirus that has sent economies spinning toward recession.

The panel, to be held almost daily from Thursday through the end of this month, will summon economists and corporate executives to hear their views on steps to mitigate the hit from the coronavirus outbreak, the government official told Reuters on Wednesday (March 18), confirming an earlier report by the Nikkei economic daily.

Discussions by the panel will lay the groundwork for an economic stimulus package the government plans to launch in April, which Abe had said would include "bold and unprecedented" measures.

Ruling party lawmakers are calling for tax cuts and a spending package of up to 30 trillion yen (S$398 billion), a proposal Abe had said he will take into account.

The Mainichi newspaper separately reported on Wednesday that the package could also include cash payouts to households.

The epidemic has hit Japan's economy, already reeling from last year's sales tax hike and soft global demand, heightening the chance of a recession and stoking speculation the Tokyo Olympic Games may be cancelled or postponed.

The BOJ eased monetary policy through an increase in risky asset purchases in an emergency meeting on Monday.

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