Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stressed Monday his resolve to accelerate reconstruction work on the second anniversary of the March 2011 megaquake and tsunami disaster.
“The government will listen to the local voices and work as one,” Abe said in a video message posted Monday morning on the official YouTube channel of the prime minister’s office ahead of a government-hosted ceremony to be held later in the day.
“Unless spring comes to Tohoku, real spring cannot come to Japan,” Abe said, referring to the northeastern region devastated by the catastrophe.
Since taking office last December, Abe has visited the disaster-hit prefectures of Miyagi, Fukushima and Iwate. Fukushima is home to the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, which experienced three reactor core meltdowns triggered by the 3/11 disasters.
Abe also called on the public to support the prefectures through donations, volunteering, visiting and the purchasing of local products.
“Let’s continue to support Tohoku together,” Abe said in the video message that showed footage of him encouraging workers at the Fukushima No. 1 plant and talking with disaster-hit residents at temporary homes.
Having criticized the previous government, led by the Democratic Party of Japan, for its slow progress on reconstruction, Abe, whose Liberal Democratic Party returned to power in the December election, has implemented new measures, such as expanding the budget allocated to reconstruction to ¥25 trillion from ¥19 trillion for the five-year period from fiscal 2011.
His government has also decided to make it easier for disaster-hit municipalities to use state subsidies for reconstruction and has compiled measures to speed up evacuees’ return home to Fukushima Prefecture and to rebuild homes for disaster-affected people.
According to the Reconstruction Agency, around 315,000 people still live away from their homes across all 47 prefectures and about 57,000 people from Fukushima have not returned to the prefecture, it said.
Abe’s video message can be seen at the following link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmOyyUATuOw&feature=youtu.be