TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso on Friday urged public and private financial institutions to step up efforts to ensure smooth corporate financing in the run-up to the fiscal year-end in March, amid rising concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.
“I ask financial institutions to do the utmost to pay special consideration and flexibly respond to the needs of businesses so as to prevent the spreading coronavirus from causing serious trouble to their financing,” Aso told reporters.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government plans to unveil further steps on March 10 to cope with the epidemic by tapping some 270 billion yen ($2.6 billion) left in the current fiscal year’s budget reserve.
“Many firms in Japan are voicing worries about financing,” said Aso, adding that Japan’s financial watchdog would make it a top priority to monitor whether banks promote measures to help financing.
The Bank of Japan may also take steps this month to ensure that companies hit by the coronavirus outbreak do not face a financial squeeze before the end of the current fiscal year in March, Reuters previously reported.
The central bank is entertaining the idea of using existing loan programmes that offer financial institutions incentives to lend to small and mid-size firms, or creating a new one, according to sources.
Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto, Daniel Leussink and Takashi Umekawa; Editing by Alex Richardson and Kevin Liffey