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Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2008

Priority budget details announced


Staff writer

The government said Monday that ¥77.5 billion of the ¥333 billion earmarked for high-priority issues in the fiscal 2009 budget will be used to fund social security programs including emergency medical services and childbirth and child-rearing assistance.

Much of the priority budget will also go to revitalize regions, improve the country's food self-sufficiency rate, as well as bolster education and research and development, the government said.

When compiling the allocations, Prime Minister Taro Aso focused on protecting the livelihoods of ordinary working people, promoting the potential strengths of regions and reinforcing science, technology and diplomacy, Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa stressed.

Nakagawa said that although the overall budget is unprecedented in size at ¥88.55 trillion, it is nonetheless sound.

"Although the budget will certainly be the biggest in history, the issuance of government bonds won't be the largest," he said.

Among social security outlays, measures to secure doctors in sufficient number and steps to improve emergency medical services will receive a combined ¥30.4 billion. Assistance for the handicapped will get ¥9 billion, while ¥7.6 billion will go to countermeasures against intractable diseases.

Measures for small and medium-size companies to secure funding will receive ¥12.3 billion.

The ¥70.5 billion allocated for education and research and development will help improve the quality of universities.



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