Business

Finance Ministry may provide grants to Japan's local governments prepped for disaster

JIJI

The Finance Ministry is considering a plan to provide tax revenue grants to local governments that have compiled sufficient disaster response plans or hazard maps.

The ministry is mulling the plan following a string of serious disasters that struck Japan recently, including torrential rains, subsequent large-scale landslides, flooding in western regions and a series of typhoons, sources said.

The ministry will present the plan Tuesday at a Fiscal System Council subcommittee meeting, hoping to include it in a set of budget-related proposals to be worked out in late November, according to the sources. The Fiscal System Council advises the finance minister and the subcommittee discusses matters linked to social infrastructure budgets.

For disaster response plans, local governments and other entities have to show, among other things, the timing for issuing evacuation advisories and suspending public transport services such as buses and trains.

The land ministry has instructed 1,161 municipalities to draw up flooding response plans by the end of March 2022. As of the end of last May, however, only 429 municipalities, or 37 percent, had compiled such plans.

According to the government’s annual white paper on disaster management, published in June, only 21 percent of 645 municipalities asked to create hazard maps for high tides have released such maps.

For flooding, 98 percent of 1,331 municipalities have published hazard maps, but it is believed that rain amounts are underestimated in some instances.

At Tuesday’s subcommittee meeting, the ministry is also expected to present a plan to set tolls for some national routes to generate finances for road maintenance and repairs, the sources said.

But the plan may draw a backlash from relevant local governments, they added.

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