Press Conference by the Prime Minister on the Package of Measures to Support the Daily Lives and the Livelihoods of the Disaster Victims and Other Matters
It will soon be one month since the onset of the 2024 Noto Peninsula Earthquake. Thanks to the vigorous efforts to date, a certain level of progress has been made in the restoration of daily life infrastructure and support for those affected by the disaster, among other things. However, many people in the affected area are still forced to live in harsh evacuation conditions. The Government is doing its utmost to respond to the concerns of the local people about the uncertainty of the future, and to help those affected by the disaster to return to their familiar places and restore their peaceful livelihoods as soon as possible. Based on this line of thought, a short while ago, the Government’s Emergency Headquarters compiled and decided on the measures that should be taken urgently in the form of a package to support the daily lives and the livelihoods of the disaster victims, consisting of three pillars.
The first pillar is to rebuild the lives of affected people to quickly improve their living conditions. Evacuated people face various circumstances, and their needs are diversifying as their life as evacuees prolongs. We will promote the provision of supplies that respond to the needs in the affected area in a careful and detailed manner, while also working to create an environment where secondary evacuations can be carried out without anxiety, including by providing careful and detailed support for those who require special consideration in order to protect their lives and health. In addition, we will provide emergency temporary housing, including the use of local-based wooden temporary housing, so that those affected can return to their familiar places, and we will also promptly provide support funds for the demolition and removal of collapsed houses, thereby ensuring housing for those affected. Furthermore, we will provide a series of seamless support for those affected: we will watch over the elderly and other vulnerable people and offer consultation services to them; reduce the burden of medical and nursing care; provide assistance when those affected visit hospitals or go to school; and provide financial support and take tax measures. In a related move, households with those affected who are exempted from paying resident tax under special disaster provisions will also be eligible for a 100,000-yen cash benefit granted to help them deal with rising commodity prices.
The second pillar is to rebuild livelihoods to revitalize the local economy. We will provide generous support to maintain employment and support business continuity in local industries in the affected area, including agriculture, forestry and fisheries, as well as traditional and tourism industries, which have served as the economic pillars of the Noto region. First, we will steadily support small- and medium-sized businesses that sustain local communities by offering up to 1.5 billion yen to those in Ishikawa Prefecture and up to 300 million yen respectively to those in Toyama, Fukui and Niigata Prefectures. In addition, businesses that have suffered multiple damages will also be eligible for support projects aimed at helping them to restart or continue their operations, with the possibility of fixed-amount subsidies, among other measures. Furthermore, in order to ensure that traditional crafts are continued and carried into the future, we will provide detailed support in securing the tools and raw materials necessary for the continuity of the businesses. We will also work to support those in the agriculture, forestry and fishery industries through measures to support the restoration of agricultural machinery and fishing boats, among other related measures, along with measures toward the future vision of the region, including those for restoring terraced rice fields with consideration to the landscape; creating sustainable “satoyama,” which refers to mountains/forests (yama) located near agricultural or mountain villages (sato), in conjunction with the tourism industry; and promoting “umigyo,” or marine-related businesses, by using resources from “satoumi,” which refers to coastal areas where biological productivity and biodiversity has increased through human interaction. In order to promote tourism, we will introduce a subsidy program for the Hokuriku region to provide a subsidy rate of 50% per night with the maximum discounted amount set at 20,000 yen, with a view to March and April ahead of the Golden Week holidays. We will consider more generous measures to stimulate travel demand for the Noto region depending on the progress of recovery efforts.
The third pillar is the measures to restore essential infrastructure and services that have been damaged by the earthquake disaster and other related efforts, which will guarantee hope for the future and lay the basis for the reconstruction of the communities. We will restore lifelines as quickly as possible, including water, power and communications services that have been stalled due to the disaster, with a particular focus on both water and sewer services that we will aim to immediately restore by sending technicians and other experts from around the country while also taking such steps as accelerating the schedule of applying higher subsidy rates, originally set to be introduced in April or later. In addition, utilizing the system of allowing the national government to assume the authority and responsibility of conducting full-scale restoration on behalf of local governments, we will promote the prompt restoration of roads, rivers, ports, fishery harbors and other infrastructures that have been damaged by the disaster. We will also provide technical and fiscal support for the formulation of plans for the recovery and development of communities, as well as measures to deal with liquefaction. Regarding the fiscal measures necessary to finance those policy items, we will mobilize the reserve funds for FY2023 and FY2024 to respond according to the stages of recovery and reconstruction with agility and flexibility. Our immediate action is to decide on the mobilization of reserve funds totaling 155.3 billion yen at tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting.
With the determination of doing everything we can from the perspective of the affected area and its people, the Government will do its utmost to help rebuild the lives and livelihoods of the affected people.