Japan eyes help for small business in stimulus plan after Brexit

Tue Jun 28, 2016 4:46am EDT
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By Stanley White and Tetsushi Kajimoto

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan is likely to include assistance for small businesses in an economic stimulus package it will compile after Britain's shock vote to leave the European Union, Economy Minister Nobuteru Ishihara said on Tuesday.

Japanese policymakers also said financial markets are starting to calm down after the Brexit vote last week, but repeated that they want to remain ready to respond to any further sudden jump in the yen, which could jeopardize the struggling economy.

Ishihara, did not answer reporters' questions on the size of the stimulus plan, but sources have told Reuters the government is willing to spend at least 10 trillion yen ($98.00 billion).

"There are concerns about lessening the impact of the British referendum on Japan's small- and medium-sized companies," Ishihara said after a meeting of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, the government's top advisory panel.

"Taking steps to provide liquidity to small firms could be a big factor in economic stimulus steps that we compile."

Before Britain's referendum last week, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had said he planned bold stimulus steps this autumn to revive his economic agenda, and now the stakes have risen.

Brexit has sparked turmoil in global markets and pushed the yen to a 2-1/2-year high versus the dollar, which threatens to erode exporters' earnings.

Japan should not give up the right to currency intervention to protect its economy, even if the United States or other countries would disapprove, Koichi Hamada, an adviser to Abe and an emeritus professor at Yale University, told Reuters.   Continued...

Japan's  Economics Minister Nobuteru Ishihara  in Tokyo, Japan, January 28, 2016.  REUTERS/Yuya Shino