The Great Hanshin/Awaji Earthquake which struck Japan in the early morning hours of 17 January 1995 was one of the worst natural disasters that Japan has experienced. More than 5,000 people died, and as many as four million people suffered loss or injury from this tragic upheaval, including many foreign nationals residing in the area.
The determination of the Government to address the needs of the people of the afflicted areas was also redoubled with the show of support from the international community. In the year since the earthquake, the Government has taken the following measures to rebuild the area and address the needs of the afflicted:
- Three supplementary budgets, amounting to 3.23 trillion
(approximately US$32.3 billion), have been passed.
- Sixteen special legislative measures have been passed.
- Hyogo Prefecture, which has suffered from the most serious damage, has adopted a 10-year recovery plan.
The Hyogo Prefecture Earthquake Recovery Plan is aimed at comprehensive reconstruction of the lifestyle and economy of the region. It is a ten-year plan, slated for completion by the year 2005, aimed at the recovery of twenty afflicted cities and towns. In establishing the plan, Hyogo Prefecture has committed itself to the goal of building harmonious coexistence between man and nature, man and man, and man and society.
The objectives of the plan arc as follows:
- Creation of a society dedicated to public welfare in preparation for the 21st country
- Creation of a culturally rich society open to the world
- Creation of a society where existing industries grow and new industries flourish
- Creation of a disaster-resistant metropolis where people can live with confidence
- Formation of a multi-centered network-type metropolitan area
Specific tasks facing the implementation of this plan include:
- City-building performed principally by residents
- Creating an environment in which people and nature can attain harmony
- Implementing deregulation to promote recovery through private-sector vitality
- Achieving recovery through broad participation and cooperation from both Japan and abroad
- Promoting administrative reform
- Assistance for local governments from the central Government
- Managing recovery operations
To be undertaken in connection with the Hyogo Prefecture Earthquake Plan, on 28 July 1995, the Government adopted the Guidelines for Reconstruction of the Hanshin/Awaji Region in the Headquarters for the Reconstruction of the Hanshin/Awaji Area, focusing on:
- Positive action to provide the fullest possible assistance for this recovery plan, as well as assistance on a priority basis to deal with emergency situations
The basic pillars of the reconstruction under the guidelines are: rebuilding the lives of the people; promoting economic recovery; and building a safe region.
- Rebuilding the lives of the people
- Expanding the capacities of residential dwellings with a view to ensuring the stability of the residents of affected areas
- Ensuring employment opportunities through assistance for re-employment to the residents of afflicted areas
- Expanding measures to assist the ill and the elderly who were especially affected by the disaster
- Repairing facilities necessary for education
- Supporting cultural activities to re-establish the area as a culturally rich region
- Economic recovery measures
- Creating a transport and information infrastructure to support economic recovery
- Enhancing the industrial support system to contribute to economic recomery
- Building a safe region
- Ensuring a safe and comfortable city with open space and a proper transportation infrastucture with backup facilities
- Creating disaster-resistant lifeline structures
- Building public welfare facilities which contribute to emergency response measures
In the aftermath of the earthquake, heartfelt messages of sympathy and offers for assistance poured into Japan from around the world. Offers of material and personnel help came from more than 70 countries, regions and iternational organizations, and in the end we received diverse forms of assistance from more than 30 of these countries and regions, as well as from non-governmental organizations and individual volunteers.
The extent of the goodwill expressed by the international community, raging from governments all the way to young children and coming from all continents and islands of this globe, gave encouragement and hope to all those suffering from the earthquake and have continued to inspire us throughout the process of rebuilding our cities and our lives.
The warm offers of support we received in that time of need reminded all of us how important it is for the members of the international community to come together and help each other and renewed the determination of the Government and people of Japan to redouble their efforts for international cooperation.
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