The Japanese government will use a public and private sector fund to financially support small and medium-sized businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic, Japanese sources reported Thursday.
The plan is to funnel as much as JPY1 trillion ($9.4 billion) to qualifying companies via the fund starting by the middle of May, with each getting approximately JPY100 million ($940,000).
The targets of the funding initiative are companies that cannot presently survive on bank financing alone, but can be expected to recover once the threat of the virus recedes. One main criterion is that they employ at least 50 people and have sales of 1 billion yen ($9.4 million) or more annually. Also, companies that were already in financial difficulties before the crisis hit will not be eligible.
Whether the Japanese film industry will benefit from this initiative remains to be seen. In particular danger are arthouses, locally called ‘mini-theaters,’ that support Japan’s large indie film sector. A crowdfunding campaign launched by directors Koji Fukada and Ryusuke Hamaguchi passed the JPY200 million ($1.9 million) mark on April 28 and is well on the way to achieving its goal of JPY300 million ($2.8 million) by the May 14 deadline. The money will go to 109 cinemas and 92 related organizations participating in the campaign.
The government’s Regional Economy Vitalization Corporation of Japan is expected to make capital injections. The REVIC fund has a surplus of JPY50 billion ($470 million) and will be able to raise up to $9.4 billion in government-backed financing.