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Japan to compile second reconstruction budget
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) June 14, 2011

Prime Minister Naoto Kan instructed his cabinet ministers on Tuesday to compile another relief budget to help efforts to rebuild the nation's northeast devastated by the March quake and tsunami.

The government plans no bond issuance to finance the extra spending, ministers said.

The extra budget is expected to be smaller than a first four trillion yen ($50 billion) supplementary budget for the year to fiscal 2012.

"We will include... urgent measures that were not included in the current first supplementary budget," Kan said in parliament.

Kan said one measure could be assistance to those who are burdened with "double loans" -- a remaining mortgage on a house destroyed in the March 11 disaster and another borrowing on a new house.

The government aims to compile the new budget possibly in July, Kan said.

Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda told reporters the government had no intention to rely on the issuance of government bonds to compile the secondary extra budget.

"We need to have thoughtful discussions in the case of issuing government bonds, and if we are not to have such talks, we should in principle deal with the matter using other financial resources," Noda said.

Analysts have warned that any extra borrowing will further put further pressure on Japan's public debt mountain, which at around 200 percent of GDP, is the highest of industrialised nations.

Japan's parliament in May passed an emergency 4.015 trillion yen relief budget to help restoration work such as clearing massive amounts of rubble and building temporary housing for the thousands of people who lost their homes.

The 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami on March 11 left more than 23,000 dead or missing and crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which has been releasing radioactive materials into the environment.

For the first extra budget the government plans to divert some funds originally aimed at supporting pensions and child allowances, while also slashing plans to cancel highway tolls.

-- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this story --

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Japan business sentiment at two-year low
Tokyo (AFP) June 14, 2011 - Sentiment among large Japanese companies tumbled to its lowest in two years during April-June, a government survey showed Tuesday, after the impact of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The index measuring the mood among big companies stood at minus 22.0 in the second quarter compared with minus 1.1 in the previous three months, a joint survey by the Finance Ministry and the Cabinet Office showed.

It was the lowest reading since minus 22.4 in April-June 2009, when Japan's economy was struggling amid the global financial crisis.

The index measures the percentage of companies saying business conditions are better than in the previous period, minus the percentage of firms saying they are worse.

The 9.0-magnitude earthquake and a tsunami on March 11 destroyed entire towns and left more than 23,000 dead or missing while crippling the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, leading to radiation leaks and power shortages.

Many of Japan's biggest firms were forced to suspend plants and slow output due to the quake's impact on supply chains and power supply, which heavily disrupted production.

However, Tuesday's survey also showed that companies expect business conditions to improve in the coming months. They expect the index to rise to plus 4.4 for the July-September quarter and plus 11.3 in October-December.

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US tornado toll hits 151 as fungus strikes victims
Chicago (AFP) June 10, 2011
The toll from the deadliest single tornado to strike the United States in six decades rose to 151, and eight hospitalized victims were infected with a rare and potentially deadly fungus kicked up by the storm, officials said Friday. The toll from the May 22 tornado which destroyed a third of the town of Joplin, Missouri jumped by 13 from the number reported last week because a number of crit ... read more

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