National

Japan moves to step up reconstruction funding in wake of Typhoon Hagibis

Kyodo

The Cabinet decided Tuesday to increase government funding and assistance for reconstruction in Nagano and other prefectures ravaged by deadly Typhoon Hagibis, designating the disaster earlier in the month as “severe.”

The decision is designed to reduce the financial burden being shouldered by local governments and boost central government spending by around 10 percent to 20 percent on projects to rebuild infrastructure such as roads, rivers, agricultural facilities and farmland.

In natural disasters designated as “severe” over the past five years, the government increased its share of funding in public works projects in affected areas to 83 percent from 70 percent on average.

“Local governments in the disaster-hit areas will be able to move ahead with reconstruction work without financial worries,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference. “The government will do its utmost so the lives of people in the areas will return to normal as soon as possible.”

The government is now drawing up a package of measures to support the removal of debris and aid the recovery of small and midsize companies, as well as farms and tourism operators.

Suga said the government will tap ¥500 billion in reserves from the state budget for fiscal 2019 through March, but he also indicated that a supplementary budget will be considered “if necessary.”

The death toll from Typhoon Hagibis stood at 87 with victims in 13 prefectures, according to a Kyodo News tally conducted on Monday. The storm ripped through a wide area of the country earlier this month, cutting off electricity and water supplies, causing mudslides and flooding tens of thousands of homes.

With another typhoon having brought torrential rains in late October, particularly in Chiba and Fukushima prefectures, nearly 3,700 people were still housed in shelters as of Monday.

Ryota Takeda, minister in charge of disaster management, told a news conference that the most recent typhoon and downpours in late October caused by a low pressure system should also be treated as a severe disaster.

“I believe it is a sequence of disasters” that continued from Typhoon Hagibis, Takeda said.

The government will take over work requiring more complex technology to rebuild roads in five prefectures, including a road in Nagano damaged by the collapse of a bridge due to flooding.

Under a law to aid reconstruction after extraordinary disasters, the government also took a similar step in the aftermath of a major earthquake in Kumamoto Prefecture in 2016 that damaged basic infrastructure.

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