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Wednesday, 31st July 2013
In General Japan News,

Tsunami disaster funds remain unspent

Japanese citizens may well be angered by the news that over a third of the money allocated to rebuild areas of the country struck by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami has gone unused. 

That is according to reports by the Reconstruction Agency, which stated that 35.2 per cent of the 2012 budget to help areas worse affected by the disaster has not been spent. 

The agency suggested that there is a lack of co-ordination between tiers of government over reconstruction plans which is hampering efforts to move forward. 

In addition, there are issues getting a consensus among the residents of badly affected areas on how best to spend the money. 

Takumi Nemoto, reconstruction minister, said: "We need to have systematic backup to promote reconstruction and facilitate the use of the budget for that purpose." 

The issue is not a new one, as the agency reported that in 2011, 39.4 per cent of the reconstruction budget was not allocated. 

In October 2012, a government audit revealed that approximately one quarter of the £97 billion budget allocated to the natural disaster had in fact been spent on projects which were completely unrelated. 

The report shows that the fund was used to support research into whaling, to help build roads in Okinawa, and on an advertising campaign for the tallest building in Japan. 

According to the audit, the various projects were included in the budget because the government believed they might help to rebuild Japan's ailing economy. 

Commenting on the findings, then Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, said: "It is true that the government has not done enough and has not done it adequately. We must listen to those who say the reconstruction should be the first priority." 

Judging by the results of this latest report it would seem that these lessons have yet to be learnt. 

In March 2013, on the second anniversary of the natural disaster, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised to accelerate the country's reconstruction efforts. "The government will listen to the local voices and work as one," he said.

Written by  Mark Smith

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Tsunami victims remembered during Coming-of-Age ceremony (15th January 2013)
Japan apologises over tsunami warning (1st March 2010)