Gov't not to put cap on budgetary requests for reconstruction

The Finance Ministry has decided not to put a ceiling on fiscal 2014 budgetary requests for reconstruction from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, to accelerate the rebuilding of devastated areas in northeastern Japan, government sources said Tuesday.

The reconstruction budget is intended to address the impact from the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, rebuild infrastructure in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, and provide support to those living in the most damaged prefectures.

The budget is being managed as one of the country's special account budgets set independently from the general account budget, which covers policy-related expenditures, and often have their own specific revenue sources and outlays for specific projects.

In principle, the reconstruction budget has been used only in areas ravaged by the quake-tsunami disaster from fiscal 2013 that started in April, amid growing criticism it may have been used for other purposes such as boosting employment outside the afflicted areas.

The Finance Ministry will screen budgetary requests to prevent misuse of the reconstruction budget, the sources said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government has earmarked 25 trillion yen for the reconstruction budget, which will cover the five-year period from fiscal 2011.