July 6(Wednesday)

The second supplementary budget, and my expectation for Mr. Hirano, new Minister for Reconstruction in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake

 

At yesterday's Cabinet meeting, we approved a bill that would create an approximately 2 trillion yen second supplementary budget, which is needed to finance the immediate expenditures of recovery work following the Great East Japan Earthquake. The budget allocates funds for many urgent items, including compensation payments related to the nuclear incident, an increase in the Government's contribution to the livelihood rehabilitation assistance being provided to disaster victims, and measures to tackle the double loan issue. Priority was given to speed rather than scale when formulating this budget.

 

One example of the measures which required immediate action is the provision of funds for the installation of ice machines and other equipment at port facilities (19.3 billion yen). When I visited the Kamaishi fishing port on June 11, I was told in person that even if fishing was resumed, caught fish could not be transported to market without ice to chill them. I answered that I would do whatever needs to be done to quickly set aside funds for equipment purchases, and asked that the people of the port start doing any work they could. I promised them a quick response. This exchange, which was also recorded for Prime Minister KAN's TV, directly led to the allocation of additional funds in the draft second supplementary budget.

 

The advantage of visiting affected areas is that I can get a direct sense of their real needs. This time, when I visited the Kamaishi fishing port, I was accompanied by Mr. Tatsuo Hirano, a member of the House of Councillors from Iwate.

 

Yesterday, I appointed Mr. Hirano to the post of Minister for Reconstruction in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake, replacing Mr. Ryu Matsumoto, who resigned as a means of taking responsibility for his inappropriate remarks and actions. Mr. Hirano has been working on the front lines of recovery and reconstruction assistance to date as the Secretary-General of the Team in Charge of Assisting the Lives of Disaster Victims. I have high expectations that he will continue to work hard in his new position.



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