Japan Today

Tsunami evacuees caught in Y3 tril money trap

By Taiga Uranaka and Antoni Slodkowski

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the money could be withdrawn on short notice.

But it won't. Obviously or otherwise more houses would have been built.

Forging consensus among residents over reconstruction plans "is a time-consuming process,"

Like this:

Gov.: Want your house re-built?

Human: Huh, er, mm, ah... (sucking teeth)

Or like this:

Gov: Want your house re-built?

Human: Yes!

Gov: Huh, er, mmm, ah.... (sucking teeth) Olympics! Red-Tape! Committee meetings!

I notice no one is responsible, as per SJOP (standard Japanese operating procedure). The local people blame the local government which blames the national government which blames 'negotiations' on the local people. Even the titular leader of the ruling party can't seem to get things moving.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Now tell us the FULL story, JT.

This long article only contains bits of it.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

“The more money you pump the faster the construction companies will run away. There’s no way we can take on any more work.”

What? Some people will wait ten years for the promised help. Sad.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

nobody's to blame except these inakamonos. They want to have the reconstruction of their houses where they are previously built and of course some poeple would also like to relocate farther and the local government wishes to appease all so they are in a quagmire.

Stop blaming the central govt. The govt has already release the funds but the local govt units made ordinance restricting construction companies in Kansai and Tokyo area and only accept companies from Tohoku area so that the money will benefit their local economy as they say...but major construction companies who have the manpower and equipment and experience are being shut out.

Inakamono ignoramous

-13 ( +3 / -16 )

This report is so depressing on so many ways! First, my sympathy goes out to the people forced to spend another year in temporary housing. I do think that some gov't officials hope they will just disappear. My other fear is that all of that money is such a temptation to be stolen or misused. I'm sure right now some greasy public official is living large from this in some way., while the people who really need the money suffer. The one comment I can't understand is that because of the 2020 Olympics, workers and resources are all being used in Tokyo. I claim bullsh%t! They can't even decide on the new Olympic stadium, and haven't started taking down the old one. Other projects would only be in their infancy, and they would have only just started, but the reconstruction has been going on for three years.It sounds like the construction companies just want to get as much money as they can.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

As a resident with friends affected by this I would like to explain one restraint that was briefly mentioned in this article.

Before the city could buy land, it had to track down the legal owners. That proved tedious

Tedious understates the problem. In Japan governments have no powers to resume (take) land that citizens don't want to sell. In the disater area this is compounded by the facts that many land title deeds are gone, the owners of the desired land are gone. What records remain are often hand written documents that are relics of the Edo Era. So basically no available land means no houses.

Some houses have been built out of town, on the top of hills on land that is safe and could be purchased reasonably (many local governments have strict regulations about how much can be paid per square meter, to avoid corruption) but as many temporary housing complexes are in parks, sportsgrounds or school yards that are centrally located, some refugees are resisting moving to the out of town housing.

The refugees are expected to pay for these new houses and many elderly simply cannot afford it.

Giving free houses to refugees is not pemissable either.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Shortage of skilled workers, I can tell you ! Reason no. 1 !

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Giving free houses to refugees is not pemissable either.

I would understand this, but people all over the world donated money to help the victims, so why not? We aren't talking about tax money.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I'm sorry Abe but you are never going to see a dime of that money.

Big nuclear needs that money. Especially TEPCO. They need the money for their bailout.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

The rebuilding of the North-East Coast is a huge job and should be taking first priority, but the Olympics and restarting nuclear reactors is taking up all the urgency. The money is there and the J-Gov is fritting it away on stupid things like, sending the coast guard to the Southern Ocean to protect their money pit whaling fleet. Japan has a long history of ignoring humanitarian disasters in its own country. Minamata is a good example. Many people never received their compansation and have long been dead. Many of the displaced people from the north-East are in the 60+ club and many of them are gonna die in temporary housing cos the nothing is being done to help them. Shame on you Japan! Shame!

7 ( +11 / -4 )

“I’m just clenching my teeth until I can move out and live like a human being again,” says Abe, 66, as she stands in the dim light of her living room with enough space for a couch, table and television. A gray mold clings to some walls of the prefab structure, where Abe has lived with her husband since shortly after a 9-meter wall of water obliterated large swathes of the city of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, on the afternoon of March 11, 2011.

Shameful is the only word to describe such a situation. If Abe had one ounce of leadership in his body, rather than simply being 100% a politician, he would clean this mess up. Hell, here in the states Obabma is getting beaten up for a hand-full of Ebola cases, yet thousands are still languishing in this kind of hell so TEPCO could make a few more bucks and ignore obvious safety concerns.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Disgusting. The Japanese government is a national shame.

The people have been treated despicably and as for the animals in Tohoku, they never stood a chance. Sickening.

Japan - A third world first world country.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Cant see how abe is to blame the local banks are holding the funds in local banks that has been doled out by abes govt, Olympic building hasn't really started yet, id say its to do with the red tape from he local city hall, or you think abe needs to approve each building permit or something?

There are lots of unemployed people so they could be used as labour working under the direction of skilled workers, doesn't take much skill to move a piece of wood, or unload a truck of nails etc. What labour shortage? Some unskilled workers could get onsite training.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

It's Katrina all over again, in regards to getting the money that is needed and people's houses and companies re-built. In all honesty when disaster strikes there shouldn't be all of this red tape and he said she said nonsense. Unfortunately, these people are looking at another year or two at least if nothing is done before then.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

If there is a shortage of workers, ask from other countries. There is much unemployment in Finland currently and I for one am willing to come and help the best I can.

-a husband, father of four, electrician and automation installer

3 ( +3 / -0 )

the good thing here is at least it;s in the bank, not in some other person's bank account or private properties like the corruption happening in 3rd worlds. Philippines' Haiyan victims until now are suffering and the money and food donated by the whole world were spent by politicians. How bad could it get for them!?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Shortage of skilled workers, I can tell you ! Reason no. 1 ! They can get millions of workers at any given time from China to fill the worker shortage.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

A part of the money sitting in the bank was filtered down to Okinawa's northern coast past Nago and Hentona and used for cementing the coastline. Sandy or natural coastline is no longer visible with the horrible and speedy cementing of the northern coastline. Local papers carried news of the money coming from Tohoku funds to placate the Nago people with their Henoko military development problem. By the way, there are no populated villages in the northern area that would be affected by this cementing. I'm not kidding on this issue but this is Japan and corrupted it certainly is.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

You know how this entire thing could be resolved quickly and easily? Simply give the money directly to the people.

Sure, some might spend it pachinko, but the vast majority will make their own arrangements and houses will be built in record time.

Most people will probably even do most of it themselves. I've participated in Habitat for Humanity twice and when you get a good sized group of people together it is surprisingly easy to get a house up in a couple of days, and not heavy work if everyone cooperates. Stuff like the electrical systems and plumbing being connected up needs a specialist, but in my experience that is literally 2 or 3 hours of work.

If they just gave the money directly to the people they could cooperate in small groups and have houses up in short order.

Of course the prefectural governments are afraid that people won't want to live in those areas, so they'll just buy apartments in other areas if they get money.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Japan is totally INCOMPETENT to be a problem solver. No surprise here. It is interesting to note that there is a difference between Americans and Japanese how we handle critical issues.

During the Sandy disaster in US, the fed government and NJ governor Chris Christy have implemented a "15 minutes- the buck stop here rule" in decision making process. Everyone had to solve problem before passing it on to someone else. No problem solving skills then no pay. These people are worthless.

Hope all Japanese bureaucrats learn this problem solving skill.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

properties had been passed down without proper inheritance procedures. meaning that they gov didnt get there lions share in the inheritance tax. (which is bascally a double tax) and why would people want to do that. best thing you could do is sell your property before you die and spend it all on whatever. why in the hell would I want the government to tax my assets again after they already taxed it when i bought it. some countries have abolished this tax as its bs, Japan hasnt done this yet or probably ever will

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Ken Kitsune, i agree of what you said.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This problem clearly illustrates what is so VERY wrong with the entire country, if Japan cant get its %$#% together to help these people & pronto! And clearly they CAN NOT!

This country is screwed is so many ways, but this is way beyond criminal

CANEL the ^%^&^^** Olympics & HELP YOUR DAMNED PEOPLE!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

"A labor shortage exacerbated by the siphoning of workers away from the disaster zone to build commercial facilities for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games has slowed reconstruction."

Ahhh... so THIS is what they meant when they said, "Japan has suffered terribly, and the Olympics will help boost the spirits and reconstruction in the north"!!

As for being a 'time bomb' for Shinzo Abe, people will simply choose to ignore the fact that he said as opposition leader the government wasn't working fast enough and has promised THREE TIMES that construction would have made much bigger inroads by now. If they haven't figured out Abe is nothing but lip-service by now, they never will. Worse yet are the people who know it and just "shouganai" it away.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

A labor shortage exacerbated by the siphoning of workers away from the disaster zone to build commercial facilities for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games has slowed reconstruction. So have a spike in the cost of building materials and problems in procuring land in the disaster zone.

Just goes to show that games are more important than people's lives. Abe wants to sweep this under the rug as quickly as possible because he doesnt want the rest of the world to finally realize that he cares little for the people in his country who need help the most.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

They can get millions of workers at any given time from China to fill the worker shortage.

Absolutely! In PRC, construction projects have rapid fire movement. Some villages have become cities within a couple of years. The sacked Project Manager if the project has been delayed and budget has been over spent. PM Abe should swallow the national pride and reward the construction contracts to PRC state own firms.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

So sorry for the people in those areas, but as long as banks are involved in making money, the longer they can keep them waiting and make money in the long run the longer it will take.

"The solution, said Onodera, has been to invest in short-term government bonds. As a result, 77 Bank’s government bond holdings have risen two and a half times to 2 trillion yen since 2011."

I wonder how high is private portfolio has risen, probably much higher while Keiko Abe continues to suffer.

The best bet if for all the victims to form a large Victims group and use the media to file complaints to take care of their needs however their has to be common sense thinking as some will have to relocate as the big conglomerates have plans for other purposes on that land that stands evacuated/washed away. The costs for them is easy as the demolition was done by the tsunami. Nice places and empty tracts of land to start a big farm venture. That's what the current land owners should be doing, form a major group, hook up with JA and start a huge farm on the empty tracts.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Ken Kitsume and Tina-Pan It sounds Ok that the banks have it but they reinvest it into Gov Bonds which are the Governments debt so the cash is going round in circles and the beneficiary of this action is the bank. Its not the worst situation, but the money was meant to be used not invested and the delay of using the money has meant that due to inflation and increased tax the money is now worth far less than it was when it was first deposited. Its typical of Japan and Japanese companies, that money is never invested in its best commodity, its people.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Instead of building houses they have spent the money building an ugly, useless sea wall along the coast. I think Miyagi has rehoused precisely none of the residents in "temporary" accommodation so far, the beaches are still closed, the local railway lines are still not repaired. It's a dismal performance.

In 2011, the Reconstruction Agency budgeted 10.6 million yen for a new home. In April, it revised that estimate upward, for a second time, to 22 million yen - almost 40% higher than the original figure.

That's a 107% increase, and is clearly nonsense. Wages and material costs have not doubled.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Just knowing that most of the fund are still in the banks gives a heave of relief. Had it had been in my country it won't be that way after all these yrs. If only those evacuees would consider changing prefectures. How could fake nikkeijins and on fake marriage visas stay in 2 or 3DK govt housing with elevators when the real Japanese stay homeless and those evacuees cramped on thin walled housing is confusing.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Why not bring in foreign construction companies and foreign labor? Could it possibly be something to do with Japanese construction companies' strong ties with certain politicians, government bureaucrats and the yakuza which ensure they don't have to deal with any tenders by non-Japanese construction companies? They will see the tsunami-damaged areas as a continuing cash cow for years to come and without having outside competition to worry about, they can take as long as they want to build those vitally-needed new homes and facilities.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Why not bring in foreign construction companies and foreign labor?

First the short answer: The myth of being an ethnocentric country and wanting it to stay that way, while paying lip service to the current foreign presence and not wanting it to "spread".

The long answer: man it would take volumes.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

there are plenty of skilled trades men in the UK not doing any thing, Japan open you doors and stop being so insular !!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Vote LDP and this is what you get. Some buildings shouldn't be rebuilt in any case if they are in an area prone to tsunamis, in a flood plain, etc.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Vote LDP and this is what you get. Some buildings shouldn't be rebuilt in any case if they are in an area prone to tsunamis, in a flood plain, etc.

The sadder part is that the opposition is in such a disarray that there are no other options than "none of the above".

Serious, who the heck else is there to choose from right now?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Makoto Kitamura, the deputy director general of the Reconstruction Agency, says local government spending of reconstruction money has been accelerating. The pace of the construction projects has also been picking up, he told Reuters, sitting in his office in Tokyo. So it is not something you should worry about.

Such arrogance.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@gary malmgren Actually there is a kind of eminent domain system in Japan. It very well may be used when JR purchases land for the new bullet train. They will, of course, try to get land owners to agree to sell, but if they can't, then they will employ eminent domain, or 収容.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

LDP ,,,,, Money did not disappear Others?

Labor ,,,,, Are all evacuees in shelter jobless? There are many jobs women can do in modern construction business The business do not operate with manual labor only. For instance, sew machines, drillers, window assemblers, etc. Women can be trained to become remote controller machine operators. If Japan Inc in USA use women in their factories in USA, why not in Japan?

Prohibit banks to reinvest these fund. Banks should be prohibited to make money based on the fund.

JT did excellent article. Long article is better than no article or brief article.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Brian Wheway, to be honest, the UK, particularly London, is in the middle of a building boom right now. Its hard for them to get enough skilled trades onto nearby sites let alone get people to travel. London is drawing in trades from all over Europe, particularly from the east.

There are plenty of Japanese that need full time employment on a good wage and the irony is that it has taken so long to get the rebuilding programme going, thousanda of unemployed local people could have been trained by now. Local people should benefit from the building boom too.

"Makoto Kitamura, the deputy director general of the Reconstruction Agency, says “it is not something you should worry about.” " This guys demonstration of empathy is heartwarming. In my opinion he should fall on his sword. He should be banging on the desks of the local authorities invloved not presiding over heel dragging and excuses. There is no compelling excuse for the delay.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think the gov is waiting till they die off or just give up and go away. Did I hear free tickets to the Olympics for all those affected?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Labor --- to employ foreign workers. It will cost additional housing that is already short. Bedifr immigtation red tapes. If from none English country, taining basic Japanese language that will include construction tems. Recrioy locas contractors that will employ jobless tsunami victims, including women willing to learn construction using automation gadgets, Hire local first. No need to keep money in banks.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Having a hard time understanding the "shortage" problem when there are redevelopments on every block here in Tokyo. Been to Ginza recently? Enough constructions going on to make your head spin. Why aren't they where they're needed most? CASH GRAB!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@sight: The construction workers in Tokyo usually live inside of Tokyo somewhere and they are not going to far away where there is no place to live. They are not going to quit current employers. Beside that, Tokyo workers are not familiar with Tohoku dialect and cold cold weather. There is no houses for them, that is for sure. If they have family, chuldren;s scjool have to be in consideration. Food culture is different, too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


Beside that, Tokyo workers are not familiar with Tohoku dialect and cold cold weather

This is a load of crap, thousands of workers from OKINAWA have headed up to Tohoku and other "cold" areas to work because the pay up there is better than down here.

Another thing, the Tohoku dialect doesnt make a difference either, they speak Japanese too, just like the Okinawan people who speak their own dialect along with Uchinaguchu.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@yubaru: So you think Tokyo workers will move to no house Toholu. Do you have data of Okinawan xonstrucxtion workers who moved there? I get zero info from Tohoku offices.They sat there is no construction business that have yosomono doko and dokata.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Toshiko....contact the construction companies, truck companies, electrician unions, carpenter's unions, and other associated construction businesses to get your data.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

the mayor of Ishinomaki sits in his office directing part of the blame for the hold-ups at bureaucrats in Tokyo. “It’s a massive disaster but central government officials are acting as if these were normal times,” says Hiroshi Kameyama, referring to the red tape he confronts in getting building plans approved. “It’s one of the reasons why public works are delayed.”

Directing the blame to others is what they do really well. Though not all, most local governments are famous for not wanting to take responsibility so they refer to the central government even when it comes down to the tiniest of things. They do need somebody to blame in case things do not go as expected by their electorate - at the end they also rely on the votes of their neighbours to keep their jobs.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@yubaru Thank you, Now I wonder if they have unrealistic plan to spend the money. Like the one JT had an article a few days ago.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Seem things are so bad one wonders why not import outside labor to do these jobs like prefab housing.etc Could be made of copncrete then tiled internaly they would then be able to be occupied and built on an assembly line

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A labor shortage exacerbated by the siphoning of workers away from the disaster zone to build commercial facilities for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games has slowed reconstruction.

This should shame every nihonjin who supported placing an Olympic bid so soon after the disaster. It should, but it won't. In the grand scheme of things, a two week international sporting event trumps the basic needs of their own citizens. For SHAME, Japan! For SHAME!

Now tell us the FULL story, JT.

This long article only contains bits of it.

Reuters wrote the article, not JT. JT is merely reprinting it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Seem things are so bad one wonders why not import outside labor to do these jobs like prefab housing.etc Could be made of copncrete then tiled internaly they would then be able to be occupied and built on an assembly line

The temporary housing is pretty much prefabricated. The problem really isnt with the housing itself, it's with the lack of proper foundations being built prior to putting up the houses. Many of the houses were evidently built right on the ground and with rainfall, snow melt, and shifting ground they have started falling apart. That along with poor to no insulation they are also evidently colder than hell in winter.

The government should be ashamed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"It's Katrina all over again"

How many New Orleans residents are still living in temporary housing?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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