TOKYO - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pledged to bolster reconstruction efforts in tsunami-hit northern Japan and the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games.
On the eve of the fifth anniversary of the disaster Thursday, Abe promised to rush decontamination work in irradiated areas near the plant to allow more residents to safely return home. He also set ambitious goals to reopen a damaged coastal railway in Fukushima by 2020 and triple tourism in the north.
Tokyo is the host city for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
The earthquake and tsunami March 11, 2011, swamped much of Japan's northeastern coast, leaving nearly 16,000 dead and some 2,500 still missing.
The government is criticized for rushing the reconstruction to showcase Fukushima's safety for the Olympics rather than for the residents.