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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

Conspicuous indeed

August 1, 2013


35% of reconstruction budget unused as decontamination and other key projects stalled



About 35.2 percent of the 9.74 trillion yen fiscal 2012 budget for reconstruction of areas hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake has gone unused, as key projects such as decontamination of soil in Fukushima Prefecture were not carried out as smoothly as originally planned.

Of the total money unused, 2.2 trillion yen was reallocated for reconstruction work to be done in fiscal 2013, while the remaining 1.2 trillion yen was transferred to the Special Account for Reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake as disused funds. Because the special account for reconstruction is largely based on special tax increases for reconstruction and other revenues, it should be used effectively and efficiently. Although Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government vowed to "speed up reconstruction," it seems to be easier said than done.

About 64.8 percent of the reconstruction budget for fiscal 2012 was used, slightly higher than 60.6 percent in fiscal 2011. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference on July 31, "We have been taking all necessary measures" to use reconstruction budgets. But he also said, "It is difficult to do so, as there are projects for which agreements with local residents are prioritized."

In addition to the need to secure agreements with local residents, Reconstruction Minister Takumi Nemoto said, "Problems such as shortages of staff and materials emerge at the time of implementation (of projects)." The Reconstruction Agency says the budget was not fully used partly because it had secured extra funds for the reconstruction budget in order to prevent necessary projects from being left out due to a lack of funding.

The agency says it has already decided how to use the reallocated funds in fiscal 2013 and thereafter. Therefore, it says, "The ratio of budget execution becomes higher if it is calculated based on contracts." Unused funds can be reallocated only twice.

The disused funds that emerged after projects were cancelled were transferred back to the special account for reconstruction before possibly being used again for reconstruction projects by fiscal 2014. The unnecessary funds include: 221.5 billion yen for reconstruction of facilities for the agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries; 185.8 billion yen for reconstruction of public works facilities; 140.1 billion yen to help disaster-stricken people rebuild their livelihoods; 101.1 billion yen for decontamination of soil and the like. The agency says the reconstruction work has stalled because it has spent much time coordinating with local residents and local governments.

Conspicuously, 32.1 percent of the budget for decontamination work was unused in fiscal 2012. The budget is supposed to be used for decontamination in 11 municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture that were designated as evacuation zones and were subject to decontamination work to be done by the central government as well as in 101 municipalities outside evacuation zones that were designated as "priority areas" for decontamination. But the decontamination work has not been carried out as fast as originally scheduled.


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