Japan PM candidate Kishida calls for $270 bln-plus stimulus package -media

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TOKYO — Fumio Kishida, a strong contender to succeed Yoshihide Suga as Japan’s prime minister, called for a stimulus package of more than 30 trillion yen ($273 billion) to cushion the economic blow from the coronavirus pandemic, a magazine reported.

Kishida also said that if he were to become prime minister, he would have the Bank of Japan maintain its 2% inflation target and massive stimulus program, Diamond magazine quoted him as saying in an interview that ran online on Monday evening.

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“We can’t touch it for the time being. Removing the goal could send the wrong message to markets,” Kishida said on the BOJ’s price target, which critics say is unrealistic for an economy long suffering from near-zero inflation.

“We must support the economy with large-scale monetary easing and fiscal stimulus to protect people’s lives from the pandemic,” he was quoted as saying.

The remarks came after Kishida told a news conference on Friday the government must compile a spending package worth “several tens of trillions yen,” without giving a specific number.

Kishida said under his plan, the government would compile a supplementary budget exceeding 30 trillion yen that will be funded by issuing bonds, according to the magazine.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s shock Friday announcement he was stepping down has thrown a ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leadership race set for Sept. 29 wide open, with an array of candidates – including Kishida – considering running.

($1 = 109.8200 yen) (Reporting by Leika Kihara Editing by Chang-Ran Kim and Lincoln Feast.)