OSAKA -- Only 3% of this city's households had received the Japanese government's 100,000-yen per person novel coronavirus crisis relief handout as of June 25, far below the previous day's national average of 65%.
The progress of the handouts in Osaka, the most populous municipality in western Japan, is the slowest among the 20 ordinance-designated large cities in Japan. Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui apologized to local residents for the delay at a June 25 press conference, and added, "I want to investigate why there has been such a time lag even though we increased the number of staff." He also said that he had directed departments in charge to improve procedures.
The Osaka City Government started accepting payment applications from residents in May via the internet or mail. However, many double applications and errors emerged, so the city government suspended online applications in early June. While Matsui explained that "many staff were forced to respond to various complaints," the city authorities still do not know the detailed causes of the problems. As of June 25, only 47,600 of 1.52 million households in the city had received the handouts.
According to Mainichi Shimbun inquiries to 20 ordinance-designated cities in Japan, Kumamoto (95%) in southwestern Japan, Sapporo (93%) in north Japan, and two other cities have reached at least a 90% payment rate, but Chiba (5%) east of Tokyo and Nagoya (7%) in central Japan join Osaka in the under-10% group.
One common feature of the cities with high payout rates is extensive advance preparation. Sapporo tapped a printing company to handle the handouts, as the company had been put in charge of a similar national handout in 2009 after the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Based on the know-how gained in that project, the company secured paper and envelopes so it could start accepting applications early.
Meanwhile, an official in Okayama (90%) in western Japan stated, "We started preparing in advance, from mid-April, as we watched the trends in national politics, so the groundwork had already been laid with a system developer and Japan Post Co."
Osaka Mayor Matsui complained at the June 25 press conference that "(the population of) Osaka city is too large." However, the handout rate in Yokohama, the most populous ordinance-designated city south of Tokyo, stood at 23%. Matsui was obliged to admit his own city's mismanagement of the program, saying, "We will learn the ways of other cities."
(Japanese original by Kensuke Yaoi and Tatsuki Noda, Osaka City News Department)