A report by the Board of Audit of Japan shows that around 23% of the public funds set aside for projects to help prefectures recover from the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 were not used for those related to disaster recovery. That’s almost a total of 1.45 trillion yen of misused funds for a process that has been criticized as being too slow, almost three years after the disaster that rocked the country.
They audited 1,401 out of the 1,411 projects that got their funding from the reconstruction budget of fiscal 2011 and 2012 and analyzed their connection to disaster-related projects. 912 (56%) were directly related, 27 projects (1.9%) had to do with tsunami countermeasures and strengthening schools’ resistance to earthquakes and 136 (9.7%) had some elements of recovery efforts. But the glaring number is that 326 projects (23.2%) did not have any connection to areas that were affected by the calamities. Some of them had to do with earthquake-proofing municipal government offices and even renovating the Tokyo National Stadium.
While these projects did not violate any laws since they were approved as per the disaster recovery policy, the Board strongly urged ministries and agencies to focus on the projects that need to be prioritized. Misuse of the reconstruction budget is not something new, as back in fiscal 2011, 78% of the budget was used outside of the three prefectures (Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima) most affected by the disasters. The government was not able to check if the projects indeed went to areas that had disaster victims who relocated there. When news about funds misappropriation came out again in November 2012, the government limited use of the budget only to projects in the disaster areas. The Board reminded officials that the reconstruction budget is actually an increased burden on taxpayers and thus should be used properly.
[ via The Mainichi ]