Government to shoulder all costs to stop foot-and-mouth scourge

Kyodo News

The administration has decided to cover the cost of all measures to tackle foot-and-mouth disease among livestock in Miyazaki Prefecture under a special law, officials said Monday.

The government intends to decide on the steps, including compensation for farmers who have slaughtered their livestock, at a Cabinet meeting Friday.

It expects to allocate ¥60 billion to ¥70 billion to implement the measures, the officials said.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said earlier in the day he is considering dispatching additional Self-Defense Forces personnel and police to contain the foot-and-mouth outbreak in Miyazaki Prefecture.

“We are on the brink of it spreading to the rest of Kyushu,” Kan said at a meeting of a government task force.

“According to the circumstances, we will dispatch people even if they might be in surplus to some extent,” he said. “First, we will completely stop the further spread (of the disease), and once it ends we will also put all our efforts into rebuilding” local farmers’ businesses.

So far, about 300 SDF personnel have been dispatched to Miyazaki. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku told a news conference that the government is ready to dispatch “a lot more” if requested by the prefecture.

In Miyazaki Prefecture, officials have generally been able to secure places to bury affected livestock that have been killed, but they are running short of people to do the work of burying the remains.

Meanwhile, businesses other than the farm industry in Miyazaki are starting to feel the adverse effects of the foot-and-mouth crisis.

According to a Miyazaki trucking association, some cargo from trucks bearing Miyazaki number plates have been denied, while local hotel operators said a number of group tours have been canceled.

“The city of Miyazaki is so quiet,” a taxi driver said. “The only people (who use taxis) are elderly going to hospitals.”