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
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest 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.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid