Reconstruction Minister Kazunori Tanaka has said he hopes to reach a firm decision on the structure of a planned successor body to the Reconstruction Agency by year-end.

The structure will be based chiefly on requests from municipalities in areas hit by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, he said in a recent interview with media organizations.

The government will consider how long the planned new organization should exist after it succeeds the Reconstruction Agency, which is set to be dissolved at the end of March 2021, Tanaka said.

“Top priority should be given to the voices of people in disaster areas” when details of the successor entity are considered, Tanaka said, adding that he is aware of various requests.

“The successor organization will need to function as a control tower, like the Reconstruction Agency, under political leadership and responsibility,” he said.

The reconstruction of Fukushima Prefecture, which was hit particularly hard by the nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant triggered by the earthquake and tsunami, requires medium- to long-term plans, Tanaka said.

The central government must therefore take the initiative in promoting reconstruction efforts there, he continued.

As for challenges that remain during the government-set intensive reconstruction period, which extends through fiscal 2020, Tanaka underlined the need to continue home visits and other support for people in disaster areas, care for those suffering from trauma and study how to better assist children.

In areas severely affected by the nuclear accident, the minister highlighted the importance of paving the way for displaced residents to be allowed to return to their homes.

He also emphasized the need to implement the Fukushima Innovation Coast Framework, aimed at inviting new industries to the coastal area of the prefecture, and medium- to long-term measures to combat harmful rumors.

Asked how to the momentum from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics can be used for post-disaster reconstruction, Tanaka said the games “will be the best opportunity to show the current situation of disaster areas to people at home and abroad.”

The areas will be featured in many events related to the 2020 Games, including the Olympic torch relay, he said, expressing a wish to work closely with local municipalities and the 2020 games organizing committee so the events are held without a hitch.

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