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Japan to Pay Companies to Move Production Out of China

People wearing protective face masks reflected on a screen displaying stock prices outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, March 17, 2020. (Issei Kato/Reuters)

Japan will devote more than $2.2 billion of its coronavirus economic stimulus package to incentivize its manufacturers to move their production out of China as relations fray between the neighboring countries in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The record stimulus plan provides $2 billion for manufacturers to transfer production to Japan and over $216 million to help companies move production to other countries. Imports from China, Japan’s biggest trading partner, were down by nearly 50 percent in February as facilities in China closed while the coronavirus ripped through the country.

A state visit to Japan by Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this month — the first such visit in about a decade — was postponed indefinitely last month amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are doing our best to resume economic development,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Wednesday of Japan’s decision during a press conference in Beijing.“In this process, we hope other countries will act like China and take proper measures to ensure the world economy will be impacted as little as possible and to ensure that supply chains are impacted as little as possible.”

Politicians in Japan and the U.S., among other countries, have placed blame on China for failing to respond strongly during the early days of the coronavirus outbreak and concealing the scale of the threat from other nations. Despite recent developments, Japan has donated masks and personal protective equipment to China.

“Since the outbreak of the epidemic, the Japanese government and people have expressed sympathy, understanding and support to us,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said in early February.

As of Thursday, Japan had more than 4,700 confirmed cases of coronavirus and at least 85 deaths from the respiratory illness.

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