Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori’s Cabinet decided Tuesday to use 1.4 billion yen from the fiscal 2000 budget to increase monitoring of volcanic activity on Miyake Island, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hidenao Nakagawa said.

The Cabinet decided in a morning meeting to use part of a 500 billion yen spending reserve earmarked in the budget for the fiscal year to buy 10 types of observation equipment.

“We have to be able to judge the volcanic activity appropriately to ensure the safety of people remaining on the island, and also to decide when those who have been evacuated can temporarily return,” Nakagawa said.

The government plans to buy the equipment and increase the number of observation stations for the island from 63 to 103 by around the end of this month, he said.

Most of the island’s population of 3,850 have been evacuated following a series of volcanic eruptions. Some 300 emergency personnel, including local and Tokyo government officials, remain on the island, located some 200 km south of Tokyo.

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