An industry projection estimates that life insurance payments would top ¥4 trillion if a megaquake strikes in the Nankai Trough off central, western and southwestern Japan, according to sources.
The figure is some 25 times higher than the total of ¥164 billion projected for life insurance payments for victims of the March 11 disaster last year.
The chance of a huge earthquake and tsunami originating from the Nankai Trough is believed to be very low.
But life insurers have put aside funds to cover insurance benefit payments.
An official at a major life insurer said that “even in the case of an earthquake on a maximum scale, the company has secured enough reserves for estimated payments.”
The Cabinet Office’s Central Disaster Prevention Council said in August that up to 323,000 people would die if a giant earthquake with a magnitude of around 9 occurred in the Nankai Trough.
The estimated toll was raised dramatically from a projection in 2003 of 24,700 deaths. The disaster council assumed extreme conditions in a worst-case scenario.
Given that the Cabinet Office has said that the number of victims would fall to 61,000 if all disaster prevention measures were taken, an industry source said that “measures aimed at alleviating damage are indispensable.”
A House of Representatives audit committee has decided to examine the fiscal 2011 third extra budget because it has been revealed that postdisaster reconstruction expenditures in the budget covered apparently inappropriate projects.
Yoshitaka Shindo, chairman of an oversight subcommittee of the Lower House Committee on Audit and Oversight of Administration, decided to hold a meeting Thursday to verify the use of funds for disaster areas in the northeast.
Government documents submitted to the Diet have revealed that the budget included ¥60 million for state road maintenance in Okinawa, ¥2.3 billion for dealing with antiwhaling activists, and ¥28 million for job training for prisoners in Hokkaido and Saitama Prefecture.
The supplementary budget also had ¥295 billion in subsidies for the establishment of new business facilities, but only nine of 510 eligible projects were in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, which were hardest hit by the March 2011 disaster.
As the ruling Democratic Party of Japan was absent from a meeting of subcommittee senior officials, which discussed the matter, Shindo, of the Liberal Democratic Party, decided to hold Thursday’s subcommittee meeting by his authority.