by Staff Writers
Nusa Dua, Indonesia (AFP) Nov 18, 2011
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Friday that the Fukushima nuclear disaster was no longer "an obstacle" to business in Japan.
The March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which triggered the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl 25 years ago, left 20,000 people dead and missing and was a huge blow to the world's third-biggest economy.
Speaking on the Indonesian island of Bali, where he is to attend the East Asia Summit on Saturday, Noda said: "The nuclear accident is not an obstacle to business in Japan any more.
"Eight months have passed since the earthquake," he added. "Japanese people have made strong efforts for recovery.
"Infrastructure and local economy in the affected areas have been restored, normal daily life has come back... and many factories have restored their supply chains.
"This is more than just a recovery after a disaster. What we're observing is that the recovery process itself is creating a powerful force that drives innovation. Recovery is not a restoration of the past."
Japan has approved more than 18 trillion yen ($230 billion) in three emergency budgets, and agreed to give TEPCO, the stricken plant's operator, more than $11 billion to help it compensate those affected by the accident.
Thousands of people remain evacuated from a large area around the plant, 220 kilometres (140 miles) northeast of Tokyo, and on Thursday Japan banned rice grown nearby after samples showed radioactive contamination above legal limits.
Japan's economy rebounded in the third July-September quarter this year, growing by an annualised 6.0 percent, after shrinking 0.3 percent quarter-on-quarter in April-June.
But Japanese firms are grappling with a strong yen that erodes repatriated profits and have been hit by Thailand's worst flooding in decades, which has affected their supply chains and damaged manufacturing facilities.
Even so Noda said the IMF was projecting Japanese growth at 2.3 percent in 2012, "higher than in average advanced economies".
Tokyo is to join negotiations to set up the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement with the United States and 10 other countries -- a pact that could become the nucleus of a vast free trade area spanning the Pacific.
"Japan's recovery cannot been achieved without the bonds with the East Asia region, and at the same time the sound future of East Asia cannot be achieved without Japan's contribution," Noda said.
Bringing Order To A World Of Disasters
A world of storm and tempest
When the Earth Quakes
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Haiti leader moves towards restoring army
Port-Au-Prince (AFP) Nov 18, 2011
Haitian President Michel Martelly on Friday moved towards restoring the Caribbean nation's army, which was disbanded in the mid-1990s after decades of coups and political sway. Martelly, a former pop singer who was sworn in as president in May vowing to end the instability and insecurity which has rocked his country, said he was setting up a commission to draw up a timetable for bringing bac ... read more
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