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2012年12月 5日 (水)

震災復興 歩みを加速させる具体策示せ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 5, 2012)
Parties need clear plans for disaster reconstruction
震災復興 歩みを加速させる具体策示せ(12月4日付・読売社説)

The first House of Representatives election since the Great East Japan Earthquake officially kicks off Tuesday.

How should reconstruction of disaster-hit areas, which has seen significant delays, be accelerated? Each party's policies will be scrutinized in the election campaign.

Leaders of four parties, including Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda of the Democratic Party of Japan and Liberal Democratic Party President Shinzo Abe, picked Fukushima Prefecture to deliver the first speeches of their campaigns. This is probably to show their commitment to focus on reconstruction from the March 11, 2011, disaster.

In its policy pledges, the DPJ said, "Without reconstruction [from the disaster], there can be no reconstruction for Japan." The party said it would promote such measures as the relocation of residents to higher ground and the creation of jobs.

The LDP pledged the government would be "responsible for securing necessary project funds without limitations." The party considers reconstruction from the disaster a top priority in promoting its plan to "strengthen the nation's land."

It can be said all these measures are vital for disaster-hit areas.


Stop misuse of funds

It has been learned some of the funds allocated for reconstruction projects were diverted to projects far removed from contributing to the reconstruction of disaster-hit areas. Learning a lesson from this, the new administration will be tasked with effectively implementing reconstruction budgets.

In disaster-hit areas, there is strong discontent over the current administration's slow progress on reconstruction. A year and eight months have passed since the disaster, but piles of debris remain and relocation to higher ground has yet to be realized in any of these areas.

The "reconstruction acceleration" called for by each party must not end up a mere empty slogan. It is important each party show clear, highly effective measures with the actual conditions of disaster-hit areas being taken into account.

The shortage of construction materials and manpower in these areas is indeed a serious problem. Many repairs to roads and seawalls destroyed by tsunami have been suspended or delayed.

A shortage of ready-mixed concrete is particularly serious. In Sendai, large volumes of concrete have been used for a subway construction project, which has further exacerbated the shortage.

When large-scale construction projects, such as those to elevate low-lying areas, move into full gear, the ready-mixed concrete shortage will become more and more acute.

It is necessary to strengthen the coordination function of the Reconstruction Agency and establish systems to help construction companies procure necessary materials.


Depopulation a serious concern

After being hit by an earthquake centered off southwest Hokkaido in 1993, communities on Okushiri Island relocated to higher ground. But the disaster spurred people's departure there and the population has decreased by 30 percent since the quake.

Many areas hardest hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake were facing depopulation even before the disaster. Local governments are likely to make restoration and repairs a top priority, as failing to help people get their lives back in order in the immediate future could accelerate an exodus of the population.

What kind of communities should be formed, and how should they be invigorated? How can jobs be created? It is essential for promising ideas to be presented. We consider it the responsibility of the national government to help revive communities to create places where people want to continue to live.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 4, 2012)
(2012年12月4日01時43分  読売新聞)


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