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Recovery slowed by shortages

Updated: 2012-03-12 07:21
By Wang Chenyan in Morioka, Japan ( China Daily)

As Japan struggles with reconstruction efforts, the earthquake-stricken areas are still reeling from a lack of funding and human resources for the recovery.

The most notable challenge for the disaster-hit area is a lack of human resources, Takuya Tasso, governor of Iwate, the second-largest prefecture of Japan, said in an exclusive interview with China Daily ahead of the first anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan.

A native of Morioka, Tasso joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1988 and was first elected governor of Iwate Prefecture in 2007 at the age of 43, making him the youngest head of prefectures in Japan.

Tasso said the amount of money that the Japanese central government could grant to the local government for reconstruction is less than half of the amount that the local government has applied for.

And the lack of human resources, especially technicians and skilled workers, clouds the outlook of the prefecture, he added.

Despite serious concerns over labor and money, Jun Hirota, deputy director of Iwate's recovery bureau, said it's important to remove the debris in a timely manner so local industries and residents can get back on their feet.

"We have planned to finish the disposal of the debris within two years. At least 300 billion yen is necessary for this target. And we also need other prefectures' help, but this has been challenged by their concerns that the waste material might be radiation polluted."

Masamichi Okazaki, a professor of the history of Japan's political thoughts at Iwate University, estimated that it would at least take 15 to 20 years to dispose of all debris.

Okazaki has led groups of international students to the most seriously damaged areas since April to help comfort residents who live in temporary houses. He told China Daily that payments of 10,000 yen per day to remove debris have been offered to attract international students at Iwate University.

Aquatic products processing is one of the most important industries in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima. Although manufacturers in the region have resumed production, exports still haven't bounced back.

Kenjyu Kawamura, a seafood tycoon based in Miyagi and president of Kawamura Co, Ltd, told China Daily that before the disasters, the annual salmon production of his company was about 5,000 tons, accounting for 10 percent of Japan's salmon exports.

"Now the total exports of the whole country have dropped to only 10,000 tons a year because of the fear of the radiation threat," he said.

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