Japan studies how to support 2011 disaster areas after Reconstruction Agency folds in 2021
Staff are seen at the Reconstruction Agency in Tokyo in February 2017.
The government has started work to determine how to support rebuilding efforts in areas of northeastern Japan hit by the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster after the Reconstruction Agency is abolished in March 2021, sources said Tuesday.
The government has started by gathering views from 12 municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture, where a number of residents were forced to evacuate following the triple meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant. The goal is to find out what support the municipalities expect from the central government, according to officials familiar with the matter.
The government aims to establish a basic assistance policy by the end of March 2020, chiefly by determining the roles of an organization that will succeed the agency, the officials said.
The agency was set up in February 2012 to take control of support for reconstruction efforts — particularly in severely damaged areas in the three Tohoku prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima.
It now has some 520 staff to support those affected and back business revitalization. It is also helping with the return of evacuees to their homes in Fukushima.
Legally, the agency cannot exist beyond March 2021, when the government-set reconstruction period for the disaster expires. But affected areas are still struggling. In Fukushima, evacuation advisories remain intact in some areas, prolonging recovery work even further.
The basic support policy and a blueprint for the successor organization will be finalized based on the results of the Fukushima survey, as well as talks with the Iwate and Miyagi prefectural governments and the ruling camp, the officials said.
The government hopes to see necessary legislation pass the Diet in 2020, they added.
One likely scenario regarding the successor body is setting up a department at the Cabinet Office to mainly support reconstruction efforts. But there are calls for creating a government agency to take charge of disaster prevention and reconstruction across the country, critics have said.