Massive debate slowed quake aid: Red Cross

by Setsuko Kamiya

Staff Writer

The delay in quake aid distribution was caused by an unprecedented 15-prefecture effort to draw up a fair set of criteria for determining the amount of money each person should receive, the Japanese Red Cross Society said Friday.

The donations are being doled out to one person after another, the group said, adding that the Red Cross is extending the aid drive until March 31 because of the dire need for help.

“We’ve received criticism that the distribution of donations has been slow and we do see the need to review the issue. But we have been very particular about securing the fairness of the distribution, and we will continue to stick to that principle,” President Tadateru Konoe said at Japan Red Cross headquarters in Minato Ward, Tokyo.

By the end of August, the Japanese Red Cross had received ¥282.9 billion in donations. As of Aug. 26, about 60 percent of the victims had received funds based on rules set by the distribution committee, which included representatives from 15 prefectures and other aid groups.

The scale of the unified panel was unprecedented. Disasters usually entail one prefecture deciding its own distribution criteria, the Red Cross said.

This time, the panel was formed at the initiative of the central government, with the first meeting held April 8.

But it also took time for wiped out municipalities to recover enough to issue disaster victim certificates, the group said. The certificates determine how much aid one can receive.

The Japanese Red Cross got another ¥53 billion in funds from Red Cross and Red Crescent societies from 77 countries.