Japan drafts new five-year blueprint for tsunami reconstruction

JIJI

The government has reviewed the reconstruction work the Tohoku region will need over the next five years and has drafted a new basic policy for the period through fiscal 2020.

The draft, submitted to a panel headed by University of Tokyo professor Motoshige Ito on Tuesday, says the next five years will be crucial in completing reconstruction following the disasters of March 2011.

But it says the government will continue to play a central role beyond fiscal 2020 in reconstructing Fukushima Prefecture, which suffered the brunt of the radioactive fallout from Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The government aims to adopt the new basic policy at a Cabinet meeting sometime before March 11, the fifth anniversary of the disasters. The prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima were hit hardest by the quake and tsunami.

The current basic policy was compiled in July 2011. The period of intensive reconstruction is set to end on March 31 this year.

The new draft policy says reconstruction in the disaster zone should become a model for regional revitalization.

The government will focus on promoting the mental health of people affected by the quake and tsunami. The draft plan says one way it can do this is by helping evacuees form new communities in the places where they have moved.

For Fukushima, efforts will be accelerated to lift evacuation orders in areas where radiation levels have fallen. It will do this by March 2017.

The draft plan lays out plans to use the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as a chance to showcase the reconstruction. The draft, among other things, calls for a torch relay to be conducted through the disaster zone.

The draft says reconstruction projects will be carried out based on a budget framework adopted by the government last year. Under that framework, ¥6.5 trillion will be earmarked in the five years from fiscal 2016, with some ¥22 billion of the total set to be borne by Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima.