Eruption-hit households offered 1 million yen in aid

Kyodo

The Hokkaido government said Thursday that it will provide up to 1 million yen per household to residents of the resort town of Abuta, near Mount Usu in southwestern Hokkaido, to help cover damages caused by the volcano’s recent eruptions.

The prefectural government has designated the town a disaster area and said emergency funding will be offered to residents whose homes were destroyed or severely damage.

As of Thursday, 14 households were declared eligible for the funds, to be granted from next week.

Hokkaido government officials decided to offer the emergency funds after inspecting the area by helicopter.

An evacuation directive has been issued for about 8,000 people living near Mount Usu, including residents of Abuta, which is at the foot of the 732-meter volcano.

Mount Usu has been spewing ash and smoke since erupting March 31 for the first time in nearly 23 years.

The Hokkaido government also decided Thursday to designate 400 million yen in its draft supplementary budget to secure jobs for those who have been forced out of work by the eruptions.

Abuta town officials began offering part-time work on coastal scallop farms Thursday to about 255 jobless residents. The 75 million yen in personnel costs is being subsidized by a special state fund.

The Hokkaido government may increase the amount of financial aid to the region if damage is determined to be more extensive, prefectural government officials said.