Working group on post-quake reconstruction kicks off

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Posted 4/20/11 , edited 4/20/11

A government working group on the reconstruction of Japan’s northeastern region held its first meeting on Wednesday, with its head resolving to present as many attractive options for the future of the region by paying close attention to the needs of the local people.

The working group, formed by 19 experts, will focus on matters such as agriculture and fishery as well as job security. It is under the wing of the Reconstruction Design Council, an advisory panel to Prime Minister Naoto Kan that was launched last week.

‘‘After reconstructing the affected areas that are fraught with challenges of an aging and declining population, we will turn them into one of the most advanced places in Japan and the world,’’ said Jun Iio, the head of the group, at the meeting. He is a professor of Japanese politics at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.

The council, headed by Makoto Iokibe, president of the National Defense Academy of Japan, has been asked by Kan to prepare the first set of proposals on how to rebuild the region by the end of June. The region has been devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and is still suffering from the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

While the council develops the big picture for reconstruction, the members of the working group will discuss specific issues, such as how to rehabilitate agriculture and fishery, create new jobs and secure enough financial resources for steps to be implemented in the region. The group will meet once or twice a week.

The working group will narrow down the major agenda items around mid-May, Iio told a news conference after the meeting, adding that until then he will try to get the most of the country’s collected expertise to obtain fresh ideas.
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