The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare confirmed on Wednesday that unemployment benefits that were being paid to around 1,300 victims of the March 11 disaster will stop at the end of this month, after the government denied a petition to extend them.
Many victims lost their livelihoods in the coastal areas of Iwate, Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures, after the devastating tsunami struck the region on March 11 last year. Following the disaster, unemployment benefits in certain coastal areas and in the exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were granted a special extension.
Last October, 1,307 residents in the region petitioned the government to extend the unemployment benefits because work was not available, but the labor ministry said this week said that it would not extend benefit payments, TV Asahi reported. It is thought that a further 2,700 recipients will lose their unemployment welfare payments from next month.
Last October, the ministry extended the first benefit period by 90 days for unemployed people in 55 municipalities in Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi prefectures. At that time, Labor Minister Yoko Komiyama said that further extending unemployment aid would not motivate the jobless to look for work. She said the government would take steps to help unemployed people in the Tohoku area find new jobs.
Job seekers in the area say that although there has been an increase in the number of positions available in the construction industry due to a number of projects starting to rebuild the area, these positions are only suited to the skill sets of a fairly small proportion of residents, TV Asahi reported.
The ministry says it is hoping to revive the agriculture, forestry, fishing and manufacturing industries in order to provide stable employment for those who have lost their benefits.© Japan Today