Relocation plan eyed for disaster areas

Kyodo News

The government may expand support measures to encourage residents of tsunami-hit areas to relocate, and buying up urban areas that appear difficult to reconstruct following the March 11 twin catastrophes.

The plan under consideration is part of a drive by the government to urge residents in coastal areas to relocate to higher ground, government sources said Saturday. An idea has also been floated to prohibit residency in nationalized areas on the coast.

The land ministry currently has a subsidy project for disaster-hit areas that covers 75 percent of the expenses involved in building houses and roads and for residents to relocate. The government is now reviewing this coverage with a view to expanding it.

“For the benefit of the disaster-hit region, we need to buy (land) for what it was worth before the quake,” a land ministry official said, suggesting the government may need to spend large amounts of money to implement the plan.

However, the government could face obstacles, as residents may not agree to a mass exodus from their longtime homes. In addition, restricting their residency could undermine property rights.