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Construction orders in Fukushima Pref. last year log 1st post-disaster drop, fukushima minpo, 7/1/2016

New orders for construction work, an indicator of recovery for the construction industry, in Fukushima Prefecture during 2015 totaled 811.94 billion yen, down 56.0 billion yen, or 6.5% from the previous year. It was the first decline since the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011. It was blamed mainly on the fact that post-disaster reconstruction projects have peaked. On a prefectural basis, the rate of decline was the fourth largest in Japan.

Reconstruction work is expected to shrink further. The Fukushima prefectural government plans to take such measures as placing orders for new projects to ensure continued employment and nurturing human resources to maintain the level of disaster response.

The figures were based on data compiled by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. The ministry collected sample data from about 2% of contractors operating in the prefecture and, based on the data, estimated the total amount of public works, such as road and river projects, and private-sector work including housing construction.

In and after 2011, reconstruction work swelled in the wake of major disasters such as downpours in Niigata and Fukushima prefectures as well as the earthquake, boosting new construction orders in Fukushima for the fourth straight year until 2014. The 6.5% fall in 2015 was the fourth largest following 12.6% in Yamanashi Prefecture, 9.3% in Yamaguchi Prefecture and 7.4% in Oita Prefecture.

Of the 2015 total for Fukushima, the amount of new orders won by prime contractors (excluding those received by subcontractors) totaled 521.2 billion yen. Public works accounted for 294.07 billion yen, marking a hefty decrease of 109.4 billion yen, or 27.1%, from 2014.

Tsunami survivors open new town on Miyagi farmland, asahi, 7/20/15

original link:

IWANUMA, Miyagi Prefecture–They prayed for their lost loved ones, reminisced about their agony and despair and thanked the people who came to their rescue. And then, more than 800 survivors of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami started their new lives in a recently completed town built on nearly 20 hectares of what was once farmland.

The town of Tamaura-Nishi was born on July 19 within the city of Iwanuma, four years and four months after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami slammed coastal areas of the Tohoku region.

People from six tsunami-devastated communities in Iwanuma relocated to Tamaura-Nishi. It is the first new town with more than 100 households from municipalities affected by the disaster.

The town’s inauguration ceremony was held at a citizens hall on the morning of July 19. It started with a silent prayer for the 181 residents of Iwanuma who were killed in the tsunami.

Miyu Sakurai, 15, a third-year junior high school student, talked about her optimism for the new town in a speech she gave at the ceremony.

“I am very happy because I can study in my own room. I am proud of the fact that Tamaura-Nishi is my hometown,” said Sakurai, who lived in a temporary housing facility for about four years after her house was washed away by the tsunami.

Yoko Saito, 52, also took the stage and talked about her feelings of helplessness when she saw how the tsunami had reduced her previous neighborhood of Hasegama, one of the six communities, to rubble in 2011.

“I was filled with extreme anxiety, thinking, ‘How will I live from now on?’” she recalled.

Saito was also at a loss on whether to join the group relocation to the Tamaura-Nishi district. She eventually decided to relocate there after her eldest daughter, Aya, 26, said, “We should join the relocation because we like Tamaura.”

Their new house was completed in July 2014. Showing a photo of her family taken at that time, Saito said, “This smile is a present from all of you.”

Iwanuma city is considered a forerunner in reconstruction from the 2011 disaster, but building a town from scratch required special coordination.

“It was good that each community had leaders, and that they were quick in making decisions,” said Hiroo Kikuchi, the 62-year-old mayor of Iwanuma.

The Tamaura-Nishi district was chosen as the relocation site in November 2011, eight months after the quake and tsunami.

From June 2012, leaders from the six communities held 28 meetings on what type of town they would create.

The town of Tamaura-Nishi was built on a farmland area measuring 750 meters by 250 meters and about 3 kilometers from the coast. The entire project cost about 19.6 billion yen (about $158 million).

Sales or leases of 158 plots started in December 2013. In addition, 178 completed houses were offered for rent. Actual relocations to the new town began in April 2014.

A total of 833 people from 315 households have moved to the area, accounting for 60 percent of residents from the six communities. The remaining 40 percent, mainly families with young children, have relocated elsewhere.

The name of the town was selected through voting by residents. Junior high school students came up with the names of four parks in Tamaura-Nishi.

A large supermarket was opened in Tamaura-Nishi on July 7 and has since been attracting customers even from areas outside the town.

“Since the disaster, we have been making efforts together and have shared the same thoughts,” said Katsuyoshi Nakagawa, 76, who coordinated the opinions from the six communities. “That has led to the birth of a good town.”

On the afternoon of July 19, residents of the Tamaura-Nishi district unveiled a monument in the new town and expressed gratitude to all people concerned.

At the end of the event, residents performed a mid-summer Bon-odori dance, the first time in five years that the traditional dance festival has been held.

“Today is the starting day of our hometown,” one of the residents said.

Only 40% of gov’t subsidies for Tohoku disaster projects spent, mainichi, 3/26/2015

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Only 40.5 percent of government subsidies granted to reconstruction-related projects by municipalities and other entities in Japan between fiscal 2011 and 2013 was used as planned, a review by the Board of Audit of Japan showed Monday.

A total of 3.4 trillion yen ($28.38 billion) was extended to 102 projects during the period for a wide range of areas such as housing, medical services, nursing care and welfare. But only 1.3 trillion yen was spent as of the end of fiscal 2013, as some projects were not carried out as initially planned, or may have been overfunded in the first place.

The Board of Audit of Japan said the finding is not necessarily problematic, given that reconstruction projects need multiple years to be completed. But the body, which checks state expenditures, urged the central government to “examine whether the scale of such projects is appropriate.”

Japan marks the fourth anniversary on March 11 of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that wreaked havoc on the Tohoku region in the country’s northeast, but reconstruction is far from complete.

Six projects saw their granted subsidies unused, including one to extend low-interest loans to disaster victims to build and repair houses, partly because it took time to reorganize town lots and prepare them on higher ground.

In the three hardest hit prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima alone, 50.9 percent of 1.7 trillion yen in state subsidies granted to 62 projects was used.

The review also found a combined 136 billion yen allocated for 32 disaster-related projects had been returned to the state by the end of March 2014.

Roughly 90 percent of the amount, or 123 billion yen, was given back as the government tightened control over the use of subsidies for reconstruction amid revelations that some subsidies had been diverted to other purposes.

Japan allocated 25.1 trillion yen in reconstruction-related budget from fiscal 2011 to 2013 including the subsidies granted, with around 20.1 trillion yen, or 80.1 percent, spent, according to the board. The rate compares with 77.2 percent in the previous survey that covered fiscal 2011 and 2012.

Around 3 trillion yen was left unspent on such projects as rebuilding of public and medical facilities and removal of waste produced after the Fukushima nuclear crisis, as projects were delayed due to poor coordination, according to the report.

Land secured for 3,741 units of nuclear disaster-related public housing, fukushima minpo, 3/29/2014

The Reconstruction Agency announced on March 28 that it has effectively secured land to build 3,741 homes in the first phase of a public housing project for people affected by the nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Of the total of 4,890 homes to be constructed in the project, land for the remaining 1,149 units in the second phase is expected to be secured by September, the agency said. The Fukushima prefectural government, which is in charge of implementing the housing project, will address problems in the bidding process, including unsuccessful tenders, and plans to complete building all units by September 2016.

In the disaster-related public housing project, the prefectural government selects sites for homes, which will be built using community revival subsidies provided by the agency to finance the project. The local government has already filed applications to build 2,591 houses and secured corresponding subsidies from the agency. By March 28, it had agreed with landowners of housing sites to build another 1,150 units and filed additional applications for a combined total of 3,741 units.

As for the 1,149 houses for the second phase, the prefectural government is set to agree shortly on deals with landowners in Fukushima and Iwaki cities over sites to accommodate 190 units. It is speeding up work to select sites for the remaining 959 units, and hopes to be able to secure necessary land by September.

Majority of Tohoku mayors say recovery slow or nonexistent, japan times, 3/2/14

SENDAI – More than half of the 42 mayors of northeastern cities, towns and villages damaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami describe Tohoku’s reconstruction as slow or stalled, a Kyodo News survey said Sunday.

In the survey, conducted in February ahead of the third anniversary of the disasters that triggered the Fukushima nuclear crisis, 22 mayors said the region’s recovery is behind schedule and 17 said it is proceeding as planned. None said the work was ahead of schedule.

The chiefs of the radiation-tainted towns of Namie and Futaba in Fukushima Prefecture meanwhile said no progress was being made at all on reconstruction, even though all their residents have fled to avoid the radiation spewed by the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

In Iwate and Miyagi, municipality heads said the rebuilding of homes and infrastructure including roads, railway and port facilities has been slow.

Those in Fukushima cited delays in decontamination, compensation and work related to the ongoing nuclear crisis at the plant.

Among the 42 municipality chiefs in the three prefectures covered by the survey, 40 said they think the memory of the calamity has faded among many people.

Many mayors expressed concern that public attention is increasingly shifting from Tohoku’s plight to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

The death toll from the March 2011 disasters stood at 15,884 as of Feb. 10, with 2,636 still unaccounted for, according to the National Police Agency.


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