Japan: damage from New Year’s earthquake could reach 16 billion euros, government says

The cost of damage caused by the violent earthquake which struck central Japan on January 1, killing more than 230 people, is expected to be between 6.9 and 16.2 billion euros, according to an estimate by the Japanese government. This assessment concerns the damage to buildings and infrastructure (roads, airports, networks, etc.) in the department of Ishikawa, the most affected, as well as in the two neighboring departments of Toyama and Niigata.

A lower bill than the 2011 Tsunami

The figures are still in a very wide range “because we are still in the process of assessing the damage”, a government official told AFP on Friday, specifying that this report had been presented Thursday during a council of ministers. This official estimate of between 1,100 and 2,600 billion yen is higher than initial partial calculations of the damage established at the beginning of January by the private sector.

But the total bill should thus be very much lower than that of the gigantic earthquake and tsunami of 2011 in the north-east of Japan, which was estimated by the Japanese government at 16.9 trillion yen (147 billion euros at ‘era). Furthermore, this assessment did not take into account the disruptions to economic activity, nor the Fukushima nuclear accident caused by the tsunami, the costs of which (environmental decontamination work, dismantling of the power plant spread over several decades , compensation for evacuees, etc.) could ultimately amount to several hundred billion euros.

A risk area

The government also finalized measures on Thursday to improve the immediate living conditions of people evacuated after the January 1 earthquake, rebuild disaster areas and revitalize tourism in the region. Located on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, the Japanese archipelago is one of the places on the planet subject to the most earthquakes in the world.

Modern buildings in the country are capable of withstanding very powerful earthquakes. But this is not the case for many old structures, especially in rural areas like the Noto Peninsula, in Ishikawa Prefecture, the epicenter of the January 1 earthquake.

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