Legal Services on Japanese Laws

COVID-19 Related Information

Special benefits relevant to COVID-19 pandemic

Legal issues regarding employment and rent relevant to COVID-19 pandemic

On April 7, 2020, Japanese government declared a state of emergency for the Novel coronavirus outbreak in the areas of Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka prefectures, which was expanded to the entire country on April 16, 2020.

This declaration was made under Act on Special Measures against New Type of Influenza amended in March of 2020 to address the spread of COVID-19 infections in Japan. This Act empowers Japanese government to declare the state of emergency, but entrusts actual issuance of requests or directions for measures to prevent epidemic of COVID-19, to sustain medical system and to stabilize people's lives, such as voluntary restraint of non-essential going out, usage restrictions of schools, performance facilities and any other facilities, to governors of the related local governments.

This Act has neither any penalties for non-compliance with those requests or directions issued by such governors of related local governments, nor any provisions for indemnity of normal loss caused by such measures, except use of hospitals, clinics or accommodations by necessity for proper quarantine; use of lands and houses by special necessity for opening interim medical facilities; and expropriation or order to store specified goods, such as drugs and medicines, foods, by special necessity for implementing emergency measures. Therefore, Japanese government explicitly refuses to compensate for loss of earnings resulting from temporary closing of business in compliance with the requests or directions for the measures under the state of emergency.

On the other hand, Japanese government once decided to provide 300,000 yen cash handout per family unit for only limited families whose heads' monthly incomes decreased below one twelfth of the inhabitant tax exemption limit or less than the double amount of the same limit by decrease more than a half. However, such plan was, having much criticism, later changed to distribute 100,000 yen cash handout per person. Actual paperworks for distribution of such cash handout are entrusted to municipal governments all across Japan and many people will receive such cash handout in late May or much later.

Japanese government's first decision of aid for public upon the declaration was to distribute two pieces of face masks to the public per family unit, on a budget of 46.6 billion yen, even such a plan was also delayed due to mingling of many defective products among those prepared for distribution.

Japanese government also announced emergency support for small and medium-sized enterprises by cash payment of one to two million yen according to the kinds of such enterprises; however, as it refuses to compensate for loss of earnings resulting from temporary closing of business, some local governments, at first Tokyo Metropolitan Government followed by some others, announced alternate plans of cash handout for business operators that would temporarily close their businesses in compliance with the requests for such closing under the state of emergency. Some local governments need to count on extraordinary grant from Japanese government as financial resources for such cash handout; however, Japanese government first disapproved, later changed to approve, of utilizing its special grants to local governments as a source of such cash handout.

As explained above, Japanese government's original financial measures concerning COVID-19 infections are quite limited and Japanese government is despairingly slow in making decisions and realizing its announced plans. Therefore, it is not likely to be able to expect much further helpful measures from the government in a timely manner and it is recommended that those who have an urgent need to receive public financial assistance had better get in touch with the nearest local government first to look for resources readily available to you.

Sakuma Law Office
Kudan Southern Bldg. 2nd Floor, 9-1 Kudan-Minami 3-chome, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0074 JAPAN   Tel: +81-3-6272-6916   Fax: +81-3-6272-6917