Japan to set up $4.4 billion 'vaccine fund' under economic package

Japan Times -- Oct 14
Japan plans to set up a Y500 billion ($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, government sources said Wednesday.

Kishida has vowed to strengthen the government’s coronavirus response, as well as Japan’s science and technology. The idea for the fund has come 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 in a bid to enhance research activities and make Japan a nation of science and technology, according to the sources.

The fund, worth Y4.5 trillion, 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.