¥2 trillion reconstruction budget submitted; July 22 passage seen

by Natsuko Fukue

Staff Writer

The government Friday submitted its second extra budget for the year, worth ¥2 trillion, to pay for disaster relief and reconstruction after the March 11 quake and tsunami in the Tohoku region.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s Cabinet approved the supplementary budget, which won’t require issuing new bonds. Instead, unspent funds will be diverted from the fiscal 2010 budget.

The spending package may be enacted as early as July 22 with support from the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito, the top opposition parties.

“Many evacuees are going through a tough time. It’s an urgent matter (to help them). We hope to give strong support for reconstruction,” Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda said during a Lower House plenary session.

The budget, totaling ¥1.99 trillion, allocates ¥377.4 billion to support quake and tsunami survivors, including securing new loans for indebted individuals and businesspeople who need to rebuild their companies.

It earmarks ¥275.4 billion for compensation stemming from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant crisis, including money for monitoring the health of Fukushima Prefecture residents.

The supplementary budget sets aside ¥800 billion for postquake reconstruction.

During the day’s plenary session, the opposition criticized Kan for his lack of leadership and for making the timing of his exit ambiguous.

The conditions for “(my) resignation are the same as I said before. What I’ve said has been consistent and I’m not going to change it ,” Kan said. Under pressure from both the ruling and opposition camps to quit, Kan said passage of the extra budget was one of the conditions for his exit.

DPJ juniors hit Kan

Kyodo

Junior lawmakers of the Democratic Party of Japan held a rally Friday calling for the immediate resignation of their party leader, Prime Minister Naoto Kan, over his handling of reconstruction efforts after the March disaster and the nuclear crisis.

About 30 lawmakers attended the event initiated by 11 party members from both houses of the Diet, including Akihisa Nagashima, former parliamentary defense secretary, and Shuji Kira, former parliamentary vice minister for foreign affairs.

The participants fell short of expectations as the junior lawmakers had issued written appeals Thursday to all of the more than 400 DPJ lawmakers to join them.