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Politics

Japan earmarks extra $8bn for disaster relief

Schools to get air conditioners to weather summer heat

The Japanese government is compiling a supplementary budget to speed up recovery efforts in disaster-hit areas like Hokkaido. (Photo by Takuya Imai)

TOKYO -- The Japanese government plans to compile a supplementary budget of around 940 billion yen ($8.37 billion) for fiscal 2018 to aid recovery efforts following a series of natural disasters.

A big chunk of the spending, or about 730 billion yen, will fund restoration and recovery in areas hit by disasters this year, including the earthquakes in northern Osaka Prefecture and Hokkaido and the flooding in western Japan. Roads, levees and other infrastructure will be rebuilt, and steps will be taken to address mudslides.

The cabinet aims to finalize the budget figure at a meeting on Monday and submit it to a parliamentary session convening later this month.

The package will also include 126.8 billion yen to help small and midsize businesses affected by the disasters. The assistance will include low-rate loans from the government-owned Japan Finance Corp. To help bring back tourists to Hokkaido, help will be provided for events at shopping centers. The extra spending will also promote online and overseas marketing of agricultural products.

Another 110 billion yen will go toward public schools. Specifically, about 80 billion yen will finance installation of air conditioners at public elementary and middle schools in the wake of this summer's record heat. Another 30 billion yen will be used to fortify exterior walls at schools. A 9-year-old died in June after part of a wall collapsed on her the day of the Osaka quake.

The government will also replenish funds. Already, 200 billion yen out of the 350 billion yen in reserve funds has been or will be spent on emergency response and other purposes. The funds will be increased by another 100 billion yen.

Roughly 700 billion yen of the proposed extra budget will be paid for by special government bonds specifically earmarked for public works. Another 240 billion yen will be financed by a surplus from the government's fiscal 2017 account. The remaining 4 billion yen will come from nontax revenue.

The government is also planning to put together a second spending package centering on infrastructure spending by the end of the year for submission to the ordinary Diet session convening in January.

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