Tokyo (AFP) April 28, 2011
The Japanese government submitted a $49 billion budget to parliament Thursday to help fund reconstruction after a deadly earthquake and tsunami.
The ruling bloc as well as major opposition parties are seen supporting the bill, which is expected to be approved on Monday, according to local media.
"It's swift passage will result in help to the disaster-hit region," Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda told reporters.
The four trillion yen ($49 billion) extra budget, announced last week, would cover 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 nearly 26,000 killed or missing and crippled a nuclear power plant, which has been releasing radioactive materials into the environment.
The nuclear accident and the natural disaster have forced the evacuation of more than 150,000 people from their homes.
The government will not issue fresh bonds for the extra budget but plans to divert some funds originally aimed at supporting pensions and child allowances, while also slashing plans to cancel highway tolls.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan plans to submit a "sizeable" second extra budget later to be financed by a government bond issue.
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Japanese workers tackling the Herculean task of clearing millions of tonnes of debris from last month's earthquake and tsunami also face health risks from asbestos and dioxins. The destruction wrought by the March 11 calamity is so enormous that just removing the rubble is expected to take years. Clearing away an estimated 25 million tonnes of wreckage is a vital step in allowing victims ... read more
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