• Kyodo


Prime Minister Naoto Kan suggested Monday that the second extra budget for fiscal 2011 to pay for reconstruction in areas ravaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami won’t be ready until August at the earliest.

“We will consider (how to craft the budget) based on local opinions,” Kan told a Diet session, adding that local governments in the Tohoku region are planning to present reconstruction plans in July and August.

The administration led by the Democratic Party of Japan had initially planned to secure Diet approval of the supplementary budget during the current legislative session, which will end June 22 if it isn’t extended.

Remaining differences over how to raise the money for the budget, expected to exceed ¥10 trillion, are forming another roadblock to getting it ready by the end of the Diet session.

The administration is now considering submitting the supplementary budget to the next extraordinary Diet session, which may be convened as early as August, according to DPJ lawmakers.

Kan has indicated that the government will issue bonds to draw up a “sizable” spending package to speed up reconstruction efforts.

Meanwhile, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano expressed his disapproval of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s restructuring efforts to raise money to compensate victims of the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

“I feel again that he isn’t properly understanding the social situation Tepco is in now,” Edano said at a news conference Monday, referring to remarks last week by President Masataka Shimizu suggesting the utility has no plans to cut retirement benefits.

Edano signaled that there is still a strong need for Tepco to enhance its restructuring efforts.

“By setting up a third-party committee, the government will grasp the utility’s internal conditions . . . and decide on how it should proceed” with overseeing Tepco’s additional restructuring, Edano said.

Shimizu told a Diet session Friday that the utility has no immediate plans to reduce the amount of payments and corporate pensions for its retirees to raise funds for the victims.

On how to streamline Tepco’s operations, Edano said it is worth considering bringing about a partial separation of the utility’s power transmission from its electricity generation.

The government adopted a set of measures Friday to achieve smooth payments of damages for the victims, including a review of Japan’s present power-supply systems.

Utility companies in each region control the power grids, which many experts have pointed to as a major reason that the spread of renewable energy in the country is so slow.

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