Group seeks assistance for ’95 quake victims

Representatives of a citizens’ group and lawmakers submitted a petition April 21 to Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto calling for legislation to financially support survivors of the Great Hanshin Earthquake.

The petition was also submitted to the speaker of the House of Representatives and the president of the House of Councilors. The group promoting the legislation claims that many quake survivors are being left far behind in efforts to rebuild the areas destroyed by the January 1995 quake. “Our voice has become the voice of people nationwide,” said Makoto Oda, a writer and leader of the citizens’ group.

In all, 110 lawmakers — 39 Upper House and 71 Lower House members — expressed their support for the idea. The number of Diet members who were initially supportive of the proposal was only 17. “Politics may not be responsible for natural disasters but politicians are responsible for helping those suffering from natural disasters,” Oda said.

Initially, four group members drafted the proposed bill and sent it to all Diet members, asking for support, while a group of lawmakers drafted its own proposal of the bill. Representatives of both groups agreed April 21 on the outline of the proposed bill and plan to take it to a full-scale meeting April 25 after ironing out details and wording. If the meeting approves the proposed draft, group members hope to submit it to the Upper House for legislation soon after the Golden Week holidays, Oda said.