Over Y169 bil in disaster relief donations still not distributed

Padangekspres.net-TOKYO —More than 169 billion yen in relief money offered as donations to the Japanese Red Cross Society and the Central Community Chest of Japan for people affected by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami is still being kept by the two bodies, their officials said Sunday.

Of the 251.3 billion yen collected by the two groups, only 82.2 billion yen, or about one-third, has been sent to 15 prefectures hit by the disaster, as a committee that decides on the allocation of the money had over-assessed the scope of damage amid difficulty in grasping the whole picture of the calamity.

The committee which involves entities such as the Red Cross Society and the 15 prefectural governments and has its secretariat at the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, is expected to decide at its meeting Monday on a new set of benchmarks to distribute the leftover money.

Of the relief money already distributed, the amount actually handed to disaster survivors came to only 28.7 billion yen as of June 3, as even if the two groups had remitted the money to municipalities, the issuance of disaster certificates and confirmation of family registration have been delayed due to staff shortage at local offices.

At its inaugural meeting on April 8, the committee estimated that the total amount of relief money would reach at least 210 billion yen, as it had already received about 130 billion yen by then.

After making an estimation on the total disaster damage in the 15 prefectures, the panel calculated that given the expected relief money, 350,000 yen will be given for every person dead or missing and the same amount will be provided to each household within a 30-kilometer radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant which was ravaged by the disaster.

Relief money of 350,000 yen will also be given for each house that is completely destroyed and 180,000 yen for each house that is partially damaged.

In accordance with these benchmarks, the affected prefectures requested relief money that coincides with their level of damage. Of the three heavily hit northeastern prefectures, Iwate received 10.1 billion yen, Miyagi 33.1 billion yen and Fukushima 35 billion yen from the two bodies.

Based on new information on damage gained since, Iwate has said it will ask for several hundreds of million yen more, Miyagi about 15 billion yen and Fukushima up to an additional 7 billion yen under the current benchmarks. The total, including relief money requested by the other prefectures, is expected to fall far short of the committee’s estimate.

‘‘It probably turns out that the approximation (of the extent of the disaster) may have been too large, but as of April, it was hard to see the scale of damage and we had no choice,’’ an official at the Japanese Red Cross Society said.

‘‘When the new benchmarks are decided on, we hope to promptly remit the money in response to requests,’’ the official said.



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