The great East Japan earthquake - two years on
Japan's top priority is accelerating the "revitalisation process". The government will focus on policies that benefit economic revival, reconstruction and crisis management. The three main "pillars" for enacting meaningful change are:1. Economic revival: More than 10 trillion yen (Bt3.1 trillion) will be set aside to stimulate the economy through job creation, enhancing innovation, reconstruction efforts, strengthening domestic demand and creating global opportunities.
2. Reconstruction: The budgetary framework for reconstruction of disaster-affected areas has been expanded from 19 trillion yen to 25 trillion for financial years 2011-2015. As a result, further funding for the reconstruction has been secured in the FY2012 supplementary budget and the FY2013 budget.
3. Crisis management: Japan is making a major investment of 2.2 trillion yen to restore and fortify social infrastructures such as schools, highways and bridges.
_ Steady progress is being made in post-earthquake reconstruction. Immediately following the earthquake and tsunami, some 470,000 people were evacuated. Public or temporary housing has been made available to all of the 320,000 people displaced.
_ Political initiatives for building disaster-resilient towns are also in progress, including the collective relocation of residential areas to safe places such as higher ground, in 276 districts in 26 municipalities, and the readjustment and levelling of land for residential areas in 58 districts in 19 municipalities.
_ Vital infrastructure such as major roads and rail networks was quickly restored, while essential public services were quickly re-established. This includes 165 of 184 hospitals affected (90 per cent) resuming services, and 1,801 of 2,325 schools (77 per cent) resuming classes.
_ Japan is committed to incorporating advanced technologies and new methods into reconstruction initiatives, to ensure that communities and industries are sustainable and energy-efficient.
_ Businesses that were damaged in the earthquake, including auto companies, are now back on their feet and are set to return to globally competitive status.
_ Tourist numbers have also bounced back. In 2012, there were around 8.37 million foreign visitors to Japan, representing a significant recovery (up from 6.22 million foreign visitors in 2011) and a return to pre-earthquake levels of inbound tourism.
_ In response to the additional needs raised in the directly affected regions, the government has also pledged to secure the budgetary resources by 6 trillion yen to 25 trillion for the five year period beginning FY2011.
The way forward
_ From now on, regional reconstruction and revitalisation of Fukushima will be accelerated significantly, targeting key issues such as restoring damaged housing, supporting those affected by nuclear accident, and industrial restructuring.
_ Japan seeks to leverage the reconstruction process to reaffirm the economic potential of the Tohoku region as part of the nation's wider revitalisation.
_ The country will continue to expedite progress in reconstruction while co-operating with international partners. We welcome foreign investment into Japan, in particular into the disaster-affected areas. A number of international companies have already made new investments in the affected areas in sectors such as renewable energy, ICT and logistics.
Japan expresses its heartfelt gratitude for the continued support and friendship of its international partners. The country is committed to sharing knowledge and lessons learned from the earthquake, and subsequent recovery, with the international community. Japan will host the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in early 2015 and make efforts to deliver an effective post-Hyogo Framework for Action.