|Japan will "establish the world's top-class research and development base for vaccines," a draft plan said. A person is given an AstraZeneca vaccine shot against COVID-19 in Osaka on Aug. 23, 2021. (Photo by=Kyodo)|
[Asia News = Reporter Reakkana] Government sources revealed on Wednesday that Japan plans to set up a 500 billion yen ($4.4 billion) fund aimed at supporting firms developing vaccines for infectious diseases and new drugs, under the first economic package to be drawn up since Prime Minister Fumio Kishida took office last week, Kyodo reported.
Kishida has vowed to strengthen the government's coronavirus response, including Japan's science and technology. The idea of the fund came as Japanese companies have lagged behind foreign rivals in the development of COVID-19 vaccines and the country has had to rely on foreign doses. Japan will "establish the world's top-class research and development base for vaccines," a draft plan said. Under the economic package, to be compiled after an Oct. 31 lower house election, the government will also expand what is known as a "university fund" by 600 billion yen in a bid to enhance research activities and make Japan a nation of science and technology, sources say.
The fund, worth 4.5 trillion yen, is scheduled to be launched by March to help Japanese universities invest in future research. Kishida is seeking to expand it eventually to around 10 trillion yen. Kishida, who became prime minister on Oct. 4, has said the government will put together an economic package worth "tens of trillions of yen" to bolster measures against the coronavirus and ensure a steady growth recovery.