TOKYO (Nikkei)–General contractors are pouring workers and cutting-edge technology into Japan’s northeastern Tohoku region, banking on huge reconstruction demand.
Disaster-relief works are underway at JR Senseki line in Miyagi Prefecture.
A number of infrastructure projects are set to move into high gear in the region in fiscal 2012 to repair transport networks damaged in the disaster last March, including the Sanriku and Tohoku Odan expressways and the Sanriku Railway. Levees will also be shored up.
Demand related to reconstruction is estimated to be worth about 16.7 trillion yen over the three years through fiscal 2013, according to a think tank affiliated with temporary staffing agency Intelligence Ltd. The Infrastructure Ministry predicts that could create 570,000 jobs.
Because many big projects are scheduled to take place over a short period, a lack of building materials and manpower could cause delays and drive up costs. To head off such problems, construction firms plan to allocate more workers and advanced technologies to the region.
Major players have already sent 300-500 workers each to Tohoku and could raise that by 10-20% if they get large orders. Shimizu Corp. (1803), for example, plans a 20% increase in the size of its civil engineering division, while Kajima Corp. (1812) and Taisei Corp. (1801) are considering increasing staff at their regional offices by 10%.
Obayashi Corp. (1802) aims to win contracts for the Sanriku Expressway and other projects. “We are prepared to increase (staff) by 100-200 workers,” said President Toru Shiraishi.
Penta-Ocean Construction Co. (1893), meanwhile, has set its sights on seawall construction and believes it will need to increase its workforce by 50%, or about 150 people, if it gets contracts for such work.
Obayashi has developed a cement that can be made using saltwater that is as strong as conventional cement, which it plans to use for coastal defenses.
Kajima Corp. (1812) has found a way to improve the recycling rate for debris to more than 80% through better sorting technology.
(The Nikkei Jan. 8 edition)