New Tohoku reconstruction plan approved by panel


An expert panel on Friday approved a draft new policy for the reconstruction of areas in Tohoku damaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The panel, headed by University of Tokyo professor Motoshige Ito, received the policy the same day.

It includes a timetable to complete the reconstruction in five years through fiscal 2020, with the aim of making the project a model for local revitalization.

The government plans to finalize the new basic policy at a Cabinet meeting by March 11, the fifth anniversary of the disaster that hit Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures hardest.

The draft says that the reconstruction should promote the return of residents to their homes and substantially increase the number of visitors and migrants to the affected areas.

While stressing the need to facilitate housing construction and the restoration of transport networks, it calls on the government to help create a new Tohoku by developing fresh local resources and increasing opportunities for nonprofit organizations and women to support those affected by the disaster and revive local businesses.

The draft policy says that the reconstruction of Fukushima, home to Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s No. 1 nuclear power plant, which was damaged in the quake and tsunami, requires a medium- to long-term approach.

In fiscal 2021 and later, the government will continue to take the lead in promoting the decommissioning of reactors at the power plant, combating radioactive water there and decontaminating areas polluted by radiation.

In addition, the state will support Fukushima’s efforts to encourage companies to launch businesses in the prefecture and rebuild agricultural facilities, with the aim of securing jobs for affected local people.

At Friday’s meeting of the panel, Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai, one of its members, called on the government to actively provide information about the reconstruction work, pointing to growing concern over whether the memory of the disaster could be forgotten.

“The pace of reconstruction in the disaster-hit areas has been patchy, so it is important to accelerate the work in areas where progress is slow,” he added.

At the meeting, the government reported on plans to intensively hold reconstruction-related forums and symposiums, mainly in affected areas, in June.