TOKYO (Nikkei)–The government will decide as early as Friday where it will disburse the first round of reconstruction grants totaling roughly 250 billion yen, over 60% of the amount requested.
The special grants were created to aid localities devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The money will be used for high-priority projects such as relocating communities at risk to a tsunami, constructing public housing for disaster victims and rebuilding seafood processing facilities at fishing ports.
Unlike regular subsidies supplied to localities, the central government will not limit the method in which the funds are used or the timing of implementation. But a total of around 1.8 trillion yen will be set aside for 40 projects in principle to prevent funding from spiraling out of control.
Seven prefectures and 78 city, town and village governments submitted project plans through the end of January, with grant requests totaling 389.9 billion yen, according to the Reconstruction Agency.
The city of Kamaishi in Iwate Prefecture and the city of Higashi Matsushima in Miyagi Prefecture are among those seeking to relocate residents in certain districts to higher ground, with grant money being used to help prepare sites and build public facilities.
The funds will go toward helping municipalities rebuild seafood processing infrastructure destroyed during the tsunami. The cities of Rikuzentakata and Miyako in Iwate are among those that plan to use the money to rebuild fish markets and install refrigeration and other equipment at such sites.
Most of the funds are expected to be allocated to tsunami-wracked coastal areas, but a portion will be distributed to help rebuild inland areas that experienced liquefaction and other problems.
(The Nikkei Feb. 29 morning edition)