News / Asia

Japan Quake is World's Costliest Natural Disaster

Woman and her children walk past earthquake-damaged homes
Woman and her children walk past earthquake-damaged homes

The Japanese government says the cost of this month's devastating earthquake and tsunami may reach $309 billion, making it the world's most costly natural disaster.

The government said Wednesday that it estimates the damage to houses, roads, utilities and businesses could range from at least $198 billion to the $309 billion figure. Either total would easily top the cost of the previous worst disaster, the vast destruction Hurricane Katrina wreaked on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region of the United States in 2005. The insurance industry estimates Katrina caused $125 billion worth of damage.

The Japan damage total could go higher because the government's estimate did not include possible wider effects on the country's economy, such as reduced factory production caused by planned power outages, or the effect of nuclear radiation leaks on the nation's food and water supply.

One financial analyst, Bank of Japan board member Ryuzo Miyao, said the stress on the world's third largest economy "could linger for some time" and that the short-term effects "are not insignificant."

Japan's government has yet to say how it plans to refinance reconstruction of the country's northeastern sector that bore the direct hit from the March 11 earthquake and the tsunami that quickly followed. The government's debt is already twice the size of the country's $5 trillion economy, the highest among industrialized nations.

Economists say the country should have little trouble borrowing money to refinance the reconstruction effort, but the more Japan borrows, the higher its interest costs are likely to be.

At the moment, numerous large manufacturers in Japan, such as automakers Toyota and Honda, and Sony, the consumer electronics firm, have all closed manufacturing plants or sharply curtailed their operations. Factories for numerous industrial companies were damaged by the twin natural disasters and many cannot now get the supplies they need to resume production.

Analysts are particularly concerned about power generation in the coming months. Tokyo Electric Power, which serves Tokyo and the surrounding region that accounts for 40 percent of the national economy, lost 20 percent of its generating power and may not be able to restore enough of it to meet peak summer power demands.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs