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Government plans ¥6.5 trillion in 2016-2020 Tohoku reconstruction spending

Kyodo

The government plans to spend about ¥6.5 trillion between fiscal 2016 and fiscal 2020 on measures to rebuild areas damaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan, and the subsequent nuclear calamity.

By comparison, in fiscal 2011 to fiscal 2015, which was designated as an intensive reconstruction period, the government expects to spend a total of ¥26.3 trillion.

Reconstruction minister Wataru Takeshita conveyed the plan to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday.

The new spending plan will be decided at a meeting next week of an Abe-headed government panel in charge of speeding up post-disaster reconstruction, following discussions by the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito later this week.

The planned total will include ¥3.4 trillion to rebuild victims’ housing and affected communities, ¥1.7 trillion in special grants to local governments and ¥500 billion on measures related to the disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, which was knocked out by the earthquake and tsunami.

For fiscal 2016 and later years, the government has switched to a policy of having local governments in affected areas bear up to 3.3 percent of costs in some reconstruction projects.

But in Fukushima Prefecture, which has been hit hard by radiation contamination following the nuclear meltdowns, the state plans to fully cover the costs for projects to be carried out by the prefectural government in 12 municipalities around the stricken plant and for the construction of the section between the Soma Interchange and the Fukushima-Kita Junction on the Tohoku-Chuo Expressway.

Of the ¥6.5 trillion, the government plans to secure ¥3.3 trillion from a special income tax for reconstruction. The rest will mainly come from the government’s general account.

Speaking to reporters, Takeshita said he told Abe at the day’s meeting that the reconstruction of Iwate and Miyagi prefectures, both heavily damaged by the quake and tsunami, will likely be near completion by the end of the 10-year period to fiscal 2020.

Takeshita also said that a new special program would need to be compiled for Fukushima one or two years before the end of the period. Abe agreed with that view, according to Takeshita.