Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's cabinet decided on Tuesday, January 16, to double the planned amount of emergency budget reserves for fiscal 2024/25 to help recovery from the deadly Noto peninsula quakes, government officials affirmed.
The magnitude 7.6 earthquake devastated the Noto peninsula, northwest from Tokyo, on New Year's Day, leaving over 220 people dead and dozens of others missing, making it the deadliest since the 2016 quake in Kumamoto in the southern Kyushu region.
In the Ishikawa region on the Sea of Japan coast, about 16,700 people were still stuck in limbo in shelters, many without running water.
“Uninterrupted support is necessary for the reconstruction and recovery of the disaster-hit areas,” Hiroshi Moriya, deputy chief cabinet secretary, told reporters.
In the fiscal year from April, the government will raise its reserve fund — used for emergencies from disasters to economic downturns — from 500 billion yen ($3.4 billion) to one trillion yen ($6.8 billion), he said.
The revised draft budget is expected to be approved by ministers later Tuesday and will then be submitted to parliament for enactment.
Separately, around 100 billion yen ($680 million) from the current fiscal year’s reserve fund was set to be earmarked for a relief package for the New Year’s Day quake, he added.
Fears are rising of further deaths due to worsening health conditions in shelters as a cold front blankets the coast in snow.
TV footage showed a long line of evacuees with heavy coats and umbrellas waiting for food rations, while others sifted through donated winter clothing.
Officials are trying to move people to secondary shelters in other regions with water, electricity and heaters, but progress has been slow.
On Tuesday, the quake-ravaged city of Wajima said it had made prolonged accommodation arrangements for displaced residents at hotels elsewhere in the country.
“Our infrastructure has been decimated, and full-fledged reconstruction is still nowhere in sight,” the city said in a statement.
Even so, analysts said the impact of the disaster on Japan’s economy will likely be limited, as the earthquake struck a remote area with few industrial sites.