Japan's economic conditions likely to stay tough in current quarter, finance minister says

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Economic conditions in Japan will likely stay tough in the current quarter, Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Tuesday, also promising that the government would ensure support for employment and help firms stay in business.

The world’s third-largest economy fell into recession for the first time in 4-1/2 years in the quarter through March, data on Monday showed, putting it on course for its deepest postwar slump as the coronavirus crisis wrecks businesses and consumers.

The government also pushed back its schedule for working out budget requests and looked to adopt its mid-year policy guidelines at a later-than-usual time as it focused on responses to the coronavirus.

Speaking to reporters after a cabinet meeting, Aso said the finance ministry will push back the deadline for budget requests to Sept. 30. Ministries usually make budget requests around August.

Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura at a separate news conference said the government aims to approve its mid-year policy guidelines around mid-July.

The government usually approves the guidelines some time in June. It then uses the guidelines to draw up its annual economic growth strategy, in which it lays out its priorities for fiscal spending and economic policy.

Reporting by Takahiko Wada and Daniel Leussink; Editing by Sam Holmes