By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
The Japanese government will designate the torrential rainstorms that killed more than 200 people in western Japan earlier this month “an extremely severe disaster,” the Japan Times reported Monday. The storms killed more than 200 people and triggered floods and hundreds of landslides.
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The government is trying to expedite the Cabinet decision on the “extremely severe” designation as well as get a full picture of storm damage.
This is the first time that the upgraded disaster designation has been used since the government improved the designation system in December 2017. As a result, the affected areas will receive increased subsidies for reconstruction projects.
Japan: Government Seeks to Aid Disaster Victims
On Saturday, the Cabinet designated the torrential rain as an extraordinary disaster. This designation will allow people to receive special administrative benefits, such as driver’s license extensions and business permits for restaurants and shops.
“We’ll make our best efforts so that governments in areas stricken by the torrential rain can promote reconstruction projects quickly without worry about financial costs and afflicted residents can rebuild their lives as early as possible,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told disaster relief officials during a meeting in the Prime Minister’s Office.
Abe visited Okayama on Wednesday and Ehime on Friday. Both prefectures sustained heavy damage.
On Sunday, Abe was to visit Hiroshima Prefecture, one of the hardest-hit areas. But he was forced to cancel because of pain in his right hip, the Times reported. He selected his minister for disaster management, Hachiro Okonogi, to go in his place.
More than 5,000 People Still Living in Emergency Shelters
According to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, about 5,200people were still living in shelters in 16 prefectures as of noon Sunday.
Work continues to restore infrastructure, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry reported. As of noon Saturday, the number of households without water in Kure and Etajima in Hiroshima was down to 193,000 from about 260,000.
In Kure, the number of waterless households stood at 68,000 as of noon Sunday. Water was expected to be completely restored by Thursday, according to officials.
Electricity was fully restored in Okayama and Hiroshima prefectures on Friday, according to the Chugoku Electric Power Company.