• Kyodo

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The Cabinet approved Friday a five-year plan, starting next April, to accelerate anti-disaster measures across the country, such as improving aging infrastructure.

Under the plan, set to run through fiscal 2025, a total of 123 disaster reduction projects will be implemented including repairs to schools and roads.

The total cost of around ¥15 trillion ($144 billion) will come from the state budget, local governments and private investment.

The new plan was adopted as the government deemed an existing three-year emergency project, set to run through March next year, to enhance anti-disaster measures at a cost of ¥6.8 trillion insufficient to ensure the protection of lives and property in the event of major calamities.

"We will continue our efforts to make Japan resilient to disasters by uniting the forces of government ministries, local municipalities and the private sector," Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told a ministerial meeting.

Under the new five-year plan, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism will fix aging road infrastructure and significantly pull back the target year for completing repairs on roads with cracks in the asphalt, considered a safety hazard, from fiscal 2057 to fiscal 2025.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology is looking to complete repairs and extend the service life of aging public school facilities by fiscal 2028, earlier than the original deadline of fiscal 2030.

The Meteorological Agency will further improve its precision in predicting which areas will experience rainfall using a supercomputer, and will aim to issue warnings about torrential downpours 12 hours ahead of time by fiscal 2025.

Costs for fiscal 2021, the first year of the new project, will be earmarked in a third supplementary budget for the current fiscal year, which will end in March.

The ruling parties and heads of local governments had strongly requested a new five-year plan as the existing three-year plan had boosted spending on public works projects, supporting regional economies.

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