Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday promised to speed up the reconstruction of the north of the country, which was devastated by a tsunami there almost five years, and the Fukushima nuclear power plant by 2020 Olympics.
A few days before the fifth anniversary of the disaster, Mr. Abe has pledged to intensify the decontamination of irradiated areas around the plant, so as to allow more residents to return home safely.
He also announced plans to reopen by 2020 a damaged coastal rail link near Fukushima and triple tourism in the north.
The next five years, said the prime minister, will be a period of reconstruction and revitalization.
Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Olympics The inhabitants of affected areas criticized the government for rushing Fukushima reconstruction work for the benefit of the games rather than the residents.
Abe says he wants to triple to 1.5 million – by 2020 – the number of foreign tourists visiting the Tohoku region in northeastern Japan, so they can see for themselves the progress of reconstruction work.
He also pledged to reopen the rail link Joban, which crosses partly the highly contaminated exclusion zone by March 2020 a few months before the Games.
The March 2011 earthquake and subsequent tsunami inundated almost the entire northeast coast of Japan, killing some 16,000 dead and 2,500 missing.
The Japan Coast Guard has also resumed this week the underwater excavations in an attempt to recover the bodies of the missing. Divers braved freezing weather Thursday to take to the waters of the Bay of Hirota. The excavations were re-launched at the request of families of victims of the nearby town of Rikuzentakata.
Some residents fear that the remains of their relatives are buried forever by the work in the bay, where we built such a seawall. Research will continue on Friday.
The waters near Minamisanriku were searched Wednesday without result.