News / Asia

    Japan Tsunami Damage Cost Could Top $300 Billion

    A stuffed toy is seen amidst rubble at an area hit by earthquake and tsunami in Kesennuma, north Japan, March 17, 2011
    A stuffed toy is seen amidst rubble at an area hit by earthquake and tsunami in Kesennuma, north Japan, March 17, 2011

    Multimedia

    Henry Ridgwell

    Japan’s government says the total cost of the damage caused by the tsunami could reach 25 trillion yen – or U.S. $309 billion.

    Reconstruction could boost economy

    Entire towns were wiped out when the wave hit on March 11.

    Farms, factories, roads, railways and electricity lines were destroyed, while almost half a million people have been made homeless. Despite the destruction, many Japanese people hope the reconstruction effort might turn out to help the Japanese economy.

    If the government’s estimate proves correct, it would make the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the northeast coast of Japan one of the costliest natural disasters in history.

    The predicted cost – up to US $309 billion – includes the destruction to housing, businesses and infrastructure in the seven worst-hit prefectures. But that may only be part of the story.

    Tokyo is the beating heart of the world’s third-largest economy. This global financial hub is enduring rolling blackouts because of damage to the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The business costs of the power disruptions are not counted in this estimate.

    All facets' of economic life affected

    Former Japanese finance minister Makoto Utsumi – now president of the Japan Credit Rating Agency – says the coming months will be tough.

    “As far as the short term is concerned, of course we have a serious challenge before us,” Utsumi said. “So probably we would suffer one, two or three quarters of negative growth. But in the long term I believe this will be good for the Japanese economy, through the active reconstruction, the stimulus for the economy, would push up our growth for the coming 3 or 4 years.”

    The tsunami's aftermath is affecting every facet of economic life.

    Tokyo’s Tsukiji-shijo is one of the largest fish and vegetable markets in the world. Every day tens of thousands of tons of produce from Japan and around the world are traded in these vast warehouses.

    The United States and several other countries have banned some Japanese produce imports because of concerns about possible contamination from the nuclear plant.

    Stallholders here worry that there could be far wider consequences for their businesses.

    “It’s not just Fukushima. Other places like Chiba [next to Tokyo] and other prefectures are affected by the radiation, places where I do business. I’m really worried.”

    International companies fleeing Tokyo

    On the edge of the market, Hiro Masamoto runs a knife store catering to the fish traders. He is concerned about the future.

    “I am worried. I don’t think we’ve seen the full effects yet. If customers stop coming, we’ll be in real trouble.”

    Japan’s famous bullet trains are once again running from the capital to the tsunami-hit Tohoku region. Freeways heading north are opening up again to normal traffic.

    But many international companies have moved staff out of Tokyo, fearing a potential catastrophe at the Fukushima nuclear plant. Countless seminars, meetings and events have been cancelled. Tourist numbers have plummeted.

    Sun will rise again

    Growth remains weak – Japan’s economy only recently emerged from recession, in 2009.

    But former Japanese Finance Minister Makoto Utsumi insists this sun will rise once more for the Japanese economy.

    “For the reconstruction of our economy, not only regional reconstruction but national reconstruction, I think we have money, we have know-how, we have technology, capability, and we have the courage to face these difficulties and finally we will succeed in making the region and the country brilliant again,” Utsumi said.

    Like Utsumi, many Japanese are determined that their country can repeat the economic miracle of the 1980s – this time turning catastrophe into growth.

    With an estimated 25,000 people dead or missing, the human cost of the disaster is tragically clear.

    It will be many months, if not years before the full extent of the damage to Japan’s economy is known.

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    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.
    Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United Statesi
    X
    July 28, 2016 2:16 AM
    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora