(Reuters) - The Japanese government on Wednesday estimated the direct damage from a deadly earthquake and tsunami that struck the country’s northeast this month at as much as $310 billion, making it the world’s costliest natural disaster.
The first official damage estimates will serve to map out disaster relief plans and emergency budgets to fund recovery costs.
Tokyo said the estimate covered damage to roads, homes, factories and other infrastructure, and eclipses the losses incurred by other natural disasters such as the 1995 Kobe quake and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The figure could go even higher, as the estimate does not include losses in economic activity from planned power outages or the broader impact of a crisis at a stricken nuclear power plant in Fukushima, which economists say pose the biggest risks to the economy. “The impact from the planned power outages is likely to be significant,” Fumihira Nishizaki, director of macroeconomic analysis at the Cabinet Office told reporters.
The upper end of the 16-25 trillion yen ($197-308 billion) estimate range would amount to about 6 percent of Japan’s gross domestic product.
“This quake will cause the condition of Japan’s economy and output to be severe,” Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa told a parliamentary committee.
Speaking separately, central bank board member Ryuzo Miyao repeated the bank’s pledge to take appropriate policy action if needed to support the world’s third-largest economy. “We need to be mindful that the quake’s negative impact on the economy, at least on the supply side, may be bigger than the Kobe quake 16 years ago, and be prolonged,” he added.
Parliament condoles with Japan
The Sri Lankan Parliament yesterday expressed its deepest sympathies and condolences to the Japanese Government and the people over the calamity that took place recently due to the earthquake and tsunami.
On behalf of the Government, External Affairs Minister Prof. G L Peiris making a special statement in Parliament said that Sri Lanka was very confident that the people of Japan would draw on their tremendous reserves of strength and courage, and showing their indomitable spirit as they have done on previous occasions in the past, would overcome this calamity too.
Minister Peiris further stated that the President in his message of condolence to the Japanese people had also noted that they possessed incredible resilience and courage that would certainly help them to overcome any destruction and continue on the path of recovery.
He further said that the President, in a further manifestation of solidarity, support and compassion had visited the Japanese Embassy in Colombo to meet Japanese Ambassador Kunio Takahashi and sign the condolence book.
The Minister stated that as a further testimony to the abiding friendship and solidarity between the two countries, Sri Lanka would dispatch a team of medical professionals to help those who had been affected by the disaster along with a search and rescue teams comprising armed forces personnel who are trained for the purpose.
Prof Peiris further added that Sri Lanka would extend further assistance to Japan if necessary.
He also stated that the Japanese Government had informed Sri Lanka that there was no need for measures of an emergency nature following the explosions at the nuclear power plants in the Fukushima area, which was nearly 200 km North of Tokyo.
The Minister further stated that a large number of Sri Lankans had opted to return to Sri Lanka following the disaster. But the External Affairs Ministry with the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Japan and SriLankan Airlines, had facilitated their return, which was purely commercial operations.
The Minister also added that the Sri Lanka Embassy continued to be in close contact with the relevant Japanese officials with a view to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the Sri Lankans in Japan. He said that Sri Lanka would stand by the Japanese people in a spirit of friendship and solidarity at this time of difficulty.
Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe stated nobody had ever anticipated that such a terrible disaster would affect Japan with an earthquake of a Magnitude of 9 Richter scale, adding that ships resting on skyscraping buildings were witnessed.
The Opposition Leader further stated that Sri Lanka and its people wished the Japanese people a speedy recovery.