Miyagi governor has big recovery plans, tells Diet to hunker down


Staff Writer

Both the ruling and opposition parties must rise above the fight over the no-confidence motion this week and quickly focus their efforts on rebuilding the quake-hit areas in Tohoku, Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai said Friday in Tokyo.

Out of the three prefectures hit hardest by the March 11 disaster, Miyagi’s toll is by far the worst at more than 9,100 deaths confirmed.

The number of people living in evacuation centers has decreased since peaking at 320,885 on March 14, but 26,000 still remain without a home in the tsunami-hit prefecture.

Murai, 50, acknowledged that it is the right of the legislative branch to enter a no-confidence motion, which ended with quarrels within the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and Prime Minister Naoto Kan offering to exit before long.

But the governor stressed that those living in the aftermath of the quake and tsunami have no time for such matters.

“As time passes, the list of things to do is in fact getting longer instead of shorter,” Murai said.

Diet members must turn their eyes now to those still suffering and in need of help, he said, adding, “We need the parties to join together for the sake of assisting us.”

A former helicopter pilot in the Self-Defense Forces, Murai first was elected in 2005. He is in his second term.

During the news conference at the Japan National Press Club, the governor announced a 10-year plan to rebuild and modernize Miyagi’s coastline.

“It will take three years just to remove the rubble,” he said.

The following four years will be used to lay out and rebuild municipal areas, or “planting the seeds,” according to Murai. That span will be followed by three years of development.

But the blueprint won’t be feasible unless the central government provides ample support. One example is Miyagi’s plan to move housing from the coastline to higher ground.

The prefecture estimates that moving a town of 1,080 homes and 2,700 people would cost about ¥51.9 billion, excluding actual construction of houses.

If no special measures are taken, Miyagi Prefecture will face a tab of ¥38.8 billion, which Murai said is “unfeasible.”

“Unlike the case with the Great Hanshin Earthquake, we can’t just move the rubble and rebuild our houses at the same spot,” the governor said.

“Without the help of the central government, we can’t do this,” Murai said.