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Japan to review exclusion of adult entertainment workers from coronavirus aid package

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga is pictured at the prime minister's office in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. (Mainichi/Masahiro Kawata)

TOKYO -- Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga indicated on April 6 that the government will reconsider its plans to exclude adult entertainment industry workers from a subsidy package aimed at employers allowing their workers to take leave to care for their children during nationwide school closures brought by the coronavirus pandemic.

The plan to exclude restaurants and bars that entertain customers as well as adult entertainment businesses from the government's aid offer had drawn criticism for constituting occupational discrimination.

"We would like to review the guidelines of the subsidy package," Suga said at a sectional meeting of the House of Representatives Committee on Audit and Oversight of Administration on April 6, in response to an inquiry from independent legislator Manabu Terata.

Focusing on the issue during the sectional meeting, Terata asked, "Why are people in the adult entertainment industry being excluded?" and stated, "While care is required when using public funds, people who are working face various circumstances."

Suga responded that the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare would consider how aid packages were applied.

Under the subsidy proposal, businesses that have allowed their employees to take paid leave to care for children due to nationwide school closures in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus would be paid a maximum of 8,330 yen (about $76) per worker per day. In line with other employment-related aid systems, the proposal was to exclude workers in the sex industry and in sections of the restaurant industry that entertain customers, such as nightclubs, alongside members of organized crime groups.

At a press conference on April 3, labor minister Katsunobu Kato said that the employment-related subsidy systems' standards are set based on "whether it would be appropriate to use public assistance." He also suggested that he has no intention to review the current arrangement, but was aware industry groups had submitted a written request.

(Japanese original by Shinichi Akiyama, Political News Department)

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