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Japan needs $119 billion in quake budget, lobby group says

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Japan needs to compile supplementary budgets of at least 10 trillion yen ($119 billion) to reconstruct the country following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the nation’s second-business lobby group said.

The Japanese government should secure funds by issuing non-interest bearing government bonds to individual investors and consider increasing taxes, Masamitsu Sakurai, who heads Japan Association of Corporate Executives, or Keizai Doyukai, said in an interview in Tokyo today. The government should consider utilizing its 1,400 trillion yen of household assets, he said.

The call by Sakurai, who is also the chairman of Ricoh Co., comes as Prime Minister Naoto Kan aims to compile supplementary budget this month after a record magnitude 9-temblor and ensuing tsunami led to more than 27,000 dead or missing. The government last month said direct damage from the disaster may reach 25 trillion yen, about 5 percent of gross domestic product and more than twice the total for the 1995 Kobe earthquake.

“What Japan needs most is a vision that shows us the budget won’t just be spent on reconstructing” buildings and roads, Sakurai said. “We need a vision that says a new nation, a new region will be born.”

The ruling party must keep its goal of posting a primary balance by 2020 to show the world that Japan can maintain fiscal discipline, Sakurai said.

“Delays in rehabilitation of the country’s financing should not be tolerated,” he said.

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