Japan has pledged to give 100,000 yen to every resident in Japan to lessen the economic impact of COVID-19. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe scrapped an earlier scheme to hand out 300,000 yen in cash to eligible households after it was broadly criticized for its scope and complexity. The universal payout was chosen because we “need a measure that will help more people”, Abe was quoted as saying in Nikkei on April 16th.

The move means every resident will be better off by around 930 USD (based on exchange rate at time of writing), sometime in May according to the latest report from the Japan Times. As of April 1st, the total population of Japan is provisionally estimated to be 125,960,000. This means the total cost of the blanket handout will be in excess of 12 trillion yen.

Residents, including nationals and foreign residents, have been clamoring to find out how to apply and who is really eligible. Clarifying this information yesterday, the government said every person on Japan’s basic residents registers as of April 27. This would include internationals registered as residents with visas of over 3 months.

Applications for the handout will be sent to heads of households across Japan in the post. Applicants then need to check whether they want to apply and if so, provide ID and bank account information. The 100,000 JPY will be transferred directly into people's bank accounts. Those with a My Number card, Japan’s social security number, will be eligible for online applications. The overall application process includes no human contact to minimize infection risk according to one government official.

The move comes at a time when governments across the world are having to take extraordinary measures to prop up their economies and keep their peoples safe in the fight against COVID-19. The blanket handouts in Japan are part of a broader stimulus package aimed at keeping the economy alive which is estimated to reach a total 117.1 trillion yen or around 1.1 trillion USD. The package also contains loan schemes to support businesses whose sales are all but evaporating under the heat of the Coronavirus pandemic.

With the livelihoods of billions of people across the world at risk, it is hoped that such stimulus packages will keep businesses afloat and a roof over people’s heads.

What will you do with your ¥100,000?

Almost 930 dollars, untaxed, is a lot of money. For those hit hard by COVID-19, it is a lifeline, though it is too early to tell whether it is enough. For those yet to feel the fiscal impact of the pandemic, this money is likely to be saved.

As a final thought to end on, how would you use your ¥100,000? We invite you to share in the comments page on Facebook! And for inspiration, check out some of our ideas below (some are admittedly tongue in cheek):

  • Frugal food and daily essentials shopping for 2 months.
  • Bury it in a savings account for rainier days.
  • Bury it in a glowing hole in the ground and wait for it to sprout into a money tree (one for the Animal Crossing: New Horizons fans out there)
  • Donate it to charity if you don’t need it and don’t trust it in the hands of the government
  • Pool it together with your family or friends and start a startup! Mask manufacturing would be both lucrative and socially significant

By - Toby M.