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2012年9月15日 (土)

大震災1年半 復興の遅れ取り戻したい

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 15, 2012)
Delays in disaster restoration must be ended immediately
大震災1年半 復興の遅れ取り戻したい(9月14日付・読売社説)

Eighteen months have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake struck.

However, reconstruction of disaster-ravaged areas has fallen far short of the desired progress.

The central and local governments must step up cooperation to address without a hitch the challenge of helping put disaster victims' lives and local industry back in order.

Still conspicuous in the region stricken by the earthquake and tsunami are huge piles of debris at temporary storage sites in coastal districts. There is no immediate prospect of them being removed.

A mere 25 percent of the debris in the disaster area has been disposed of. If things stay as they are, the government-set goal of completely disposing of the debris by March 2014 can hardly be accomplished.

Construction of temporary incineration facilities in the disaster-hit areas is an urgent matter. Broad-based plans to dispose of debris in prefectures outside the disaster-struck region should also be moved forward quickly.

There have been notable delays as well in plans to build publicly operated housing, or so-called restoration housing, to accommodate disaster victims living in temporary housing.


Collective relocation eyed

About 30,000 housing units are meant to be built under the plans, but appropriate sites, such as publicly owned plots of land, have proven scarce. As a result, sites have been secured for only 10 percent of the planned public housing so far.

Projects for collective relocation of disaster-affected communities to higher ground will soon be launched. More than 200 communities, mainly in the three hard-hit prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, are expected to be covered by the planned relocation.

Every one of such plans will certainly be unprecedentedly large in scale. Voices in prefectural, city, town and village governments are saying that the manpower needed to carry out the projects, such as civil engineers, is seriously lacking.

The Tokyo metropolitan government has pledged to send about 50 technical officials in charge of civil engineering and construction matters to the disaster areas. The central government's Reconstruction Agency must give full play to its role as coordinator for creating a framework of cooperation for stable supplies of personnel to promote the relocation projects.

There are 160,000 Fukushima Prefecture residents who have been evacuated within and outside the prefecture due to the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. A great majority of them are unable to return home in the near future because of radioactive contamination.

The government's policies to help restore Fukushima Prefecture from the disaster include a program to build "temporary towns" designed to entirely relocate the local entities involved. Iwaki in the prefecture is a candidate for such towns with consultations to start this month.


Expedite special zone system

The central government and Fukushima prefectural government should tackle in earnest the task of making the program a reality.

To enable evacuees to return home, it is imperative to resolutely carry out radioactivity decontamination operations. Construction of interim storage facilities for radiation-polluted soil is essential. To ensure such facilities are established, the government must do its utmost to obtain understanding from local governments with candidate sites.

Worthy of special note as a way to help resuscitate local economies is the central government's system for designating special zones for reconstruction in the disaster-stricken areas. In the eight months after the enactment of the law for the system, 20 plans to set up such zones have been approved by the government.

The municipal government of Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, has decided to invite a large-scale retail complex to a district that has so far been exclusively for industrial purposes under the Building Standards Law, by easing regulations through the special zone system.

In Sendai, a group of farmers, utilizing a preferential taxation measure on farm produce-related businesses under the system, will launch a food processing and distribution company. Whether the system can be deemed effective overall remains to be seen, however.

Reviews to ascertain if the government's budgets for the March 11, 2011, disaster are being used effectively must be conducted across the board on the basis of how things actually stand in the disaster areas.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 14, 2012)
(2012年9月14日01時24分  読売新聞)


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