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Friday, April 22, 2011

Japan budgets nearly $49 billion for post-disaster reconstruction


Japan's cabinet on Friday approved a $49 billion budget to help in the reconstruction of areas decimated by last month's earthquake and tsunami.

The Disaster Relief Fund will pay for removal of rubble and debris, temporary housing, rebuilding of roads, farms, airports and schools, and loans to small- and medium-sized businesses.

Seeking to turn the nation's focus to the arduous task of rebuilding, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan last week invoked the imagery of his country's recovery from World War II.

"We must renew the determination that we had in the post-World War II reconstruction period, and we must tackle the task of reconstruction after this earthquake," he said.

The devastation left behind by the March 11 earthquake is an opportunity to build "a new, better future than before," said the prime minister, who was born in 1946 -- a year after the end of the war.

Kan said the Japanese people "stood up bravely and achieved a reconstruction that amazed the world."

The fund is only expected to cover a fraction of the total cost of recovery. The double disaster could cost Japan's government in excess of $305 billion, Deputy Finance Minister Mitsuru Sakurai told reporters last month.

The monster 9.0-magnitude quake that rocked the country also spawned a tsunami, leaving nearly 28,000 people dead or missing.


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