Gov’t boosts aid to disaster-hit regions
More than 100 billion yen is needed to repair earthquake and typhoon damage
TOKYO — The Japanese government decided yesterday to boost financial aid for reconstruction work in areas recently hit by a powerful earthquake and typhoons.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said measures will be taken to accelerate the recovery of affected regional economies and improve disaster preparedness, including language support for tourists from abroad.
More than 100 billion yen (US$885 million) is estimated to be required for recovery from the Hokkaido quake on September 6 and a trio of strong typhoons that battered wide areas of central and western Japan in August and September.
The central government designated damage in Hokkaido and other areas as “extremely severe” and will provide 10 to 20 per cent more subsidies to hard-hit municipalities than it usually does for smaller disasters, to assist with the repair of infrastructure such as roads, bridges and agricultural facilities.
In a meeting at his office of ministers involved in recovery work, Abe said the government will launch a 24-hour call service in multiple languages and further promote provision of information to foreign visitors when transportation and public services are disrupted. It will help airports increase staffers who speak Chinese and Korean, for instance.
Funding will be provided for steps to support Hokkaido’s tourism industry after the magnitude-6.7 quake caused a drop in the number of tourists to the northern main island.
The decision comes after foreign tourists voiced concerns about limited availability of guidance in foreign languages at airports, train stations and other facilities at the time of the disasters.
“The central and local governments will work together to deal with rehabilitation and reconstruction so that disaster victims can regain their livelihoods and feel at ease as soon as possible,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in a press conference.
The expanded subsidies will cover nine typhoon-affected municipalities in Niigata, Nagano, Osaka, Nara and Wakayama prefectures.
Among the three typhoons, Jebi left 13 people dead and took a toll on western Japan by causing the temporary closure of Kansai International Airport, the main international air gateway into the region.
The Hokkaido quake killed 41 people and triggered a prefecture-wide blackout. The central government will also ease conditions for small and midsize companies in the hardest-hit town of Atsuma as well as neighbouring Mukawa and Abira to borrow rebuilding funds. — KYODO