Japan gov't proposes keeping Reconstruction Agency until 2031

Source: Xinhua| 2019-11-07 19:51:15|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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TOKYO, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Japanese government on Thursday proposed keeping the Reconstruction Agency in place rather than scrapping it as planned, as areas still recovering from the 2011 triple disasters, including Fukushima Prefecture, still require a great deal of support.

The proposed plan to keep the agency, established in February 2012, in place for 10 more years until March 2031, aimed at facilitating ongoing recovery efforts in areas hardest-hit by the earthquake and tsunami disaster, which also resulted in the Fukushima nuclear crisis, the worst of its kind since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.

The agency will, under the plan, continue working towards the decommissioning of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, dealing with radioactive water being stored at the plant, as well as the repatriation of residents to the disaster-hit areas.

As a result of the triple disasters, around 49,000 people still remain displaced from their homes, according to the latest statistics.

The government's plan was pitched to the governors of the three hardest-hit prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, along with experts on reconstruction, who together comprise a reconstruction panel.

"We have shown our basic view on finances and the legal framework. Based on various opinions from the panel members, we will continue to work toward realizing the plan," reconstruction minister Kazunori Tanaka said on the matter.

The proposal to extend the agency's duties was well received by Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori, who said the plan reflects the reality of the situation in his prefecture.

"It reflects the reality of our prefecture as the government is continuing to lead efforts to address problems in connection with the nuclear crisis," Uchibori said.

The plan will also see the agency continue to provide aid for five more years to the crisis hit regions, although the time frame for this was met with criticism by the governors of Miyagi and Iwate prefectures, who maintained five years may be too short.

"The ending of aid for areas damaged by the quake and tsunami in five years is too harsh," Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai said. His comments were echoed by Iwate Gov. Takuya Tasso who said "I hope it will not be a strict deadline after which everything will be stopped."

The government said it would keep in place the special budget for reconstruction as well as its subsidies for municipalities affected by the disasters.

In the initial five-year period through fiscal 2015, the government has spent 25.5 trillion yen (234 billion U.S. dollars) for reconstruction.

It has also allocated 6.5 trillion yen (56 billion U.S. dollars) for five more years, although some of the funds will come from the municipalities themselves.

The proposal to extend the agency's duties is expected to be approved by the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe before the end of this year and be submitted to the Diet in 2020.