Japanese gov’t eyes reserve funds to compile extra budget for quake-linked costs

By on April 18, 2016

TOKYO—The Japanese government indicated on Monday it may compile an extra budget to make funds available to cope with the costs associated with the multiple earthquake disaster that has rocked Japan’s southwest and killed at least 42 people and injured thousands of others.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a lower house committee that the government would do everything necessary to assist the quake-ravaged regions’ restoration and rehabilitation.

“The government would like to take every necessary measure to assist quake-hit areas centering on Kumamoto and Oita prefectures,” the prime minister told the committee in parliament.

“The state will firmly assist restoration and rehabilitation of the disaster areas,” the Japanese leader added.

According to Japan’s top government spokesperson Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, reserve funds to the tune of 350 billion yen (3.24 billion dollars) may be available for costs associated to the quake-hit regions’ restoration.

“Taking into account the prime minister’s instructions, the government would like to make use of this reserved fund. The government will firmly support disaster-hit local authorities on the fiscal front,” Suga was quoted as telling a press briefing separately.

With a food crisis also hitting the disaster regions, with supermarkets and convenience stores’ shelves reportedly being empty owing to mounting supply chain disruptions, Suga also said the government will deliver more emergency food to regions in need.

Suga said the government’s plans to send 900,000 food items would be doubled to 1.8 million items, which will include bread, rice, instant noodles and powdered milk.

Initially, Farm Minister Hiroshi Moriyama said the first batch of emergency food items would be delivered by Tuesday.

“The government needs to respond swiftly so as to minimize the disaster’s impact on the Japanese economy,” Suga said, declining to comment on whether the quake crisis and fiscal costs involved could delay a planed tax hike in April next year.